Happiful September 2019



SEPT 2019





Stuck in a

career crisis?

(Solution = p68)


easy acts

of kindness

No t xic talk.

No more BS.

It's time 'fad diets'

faded out







Gok Wan

The self-love guru

has got your back



The whole truth

about trich

West End Les Misérables star

Carrie Hope Fletcher shows that

anxiety can affect even

the most unlikely

of people

9 772514 373000





GBBO's Kim-Joy • BPD myths

debunked • Grace Victory

Photography | Svetlana Pochatun

Photography | Aditya Saxena

Those who don’t believe in

magic will never fi nd it


We’re all on this journey

In a world where we’re more connected than ever

before, it’s easy to look around us and feel pressure

to be something we’re not. To conform to how

mainstream and social media tells us we need to

look, think, or even feel.

From those polished Instagram squares, to media

headlines about ‘who wore it better’, to reality shows

discussing body parts as if they are shop-bought.

We can feel bombarded by conflicting messages

on all the million things we’re supposed to have

achieved, while looking our best, and never letting

our smile falter while we do it.

We’ve packed this issue with content to shatter those

expectations, and empower you to see that who you

are, exactly as you are, is enough.

It’s OK to not always feel in love with yourself, or to

not be on top of the world, but don’t let external

forces dampen your spirits.

This September, the charismatic Carrie Hope

Fletcher puts anxiety in the spotlight, and shows

that even those who seem the most confident

can struggle as the curtain falls. We delve into

the neuroscience that could be key to reclaiming

confidence in your career, open up a dialogue

about dangerous ‘diet talk’, and chat to Gok Wan

about self-love in the digital age.

If you take away one thing from this issue, know

that we’re all in the same boat. We’re all paddling

forwards, and sometimes the current can take us

off course, but there’s

always something to

keep moving towards on

the horizon.

And, when needed, know

there’ll be someone

to help steer you back

when the waters get


We love hearing from you, get in touch:


happiful.com happifulhq @happifulhq @happiful_magazine


The Uplift

8 In the news

13 The wellbeing wrap

14 What is cyber self-harm?

What motivates people to send themselves

hate online, and how can it be helped?

74 Mini donks for wellbeing

The social enterprise enhancing lives with

their seven miniature donkeys


16 Carrie Hope Fletcher

The actor, author, and YouTuber opens up

about rebuilding after a relationship, and

the importance of setting boundaries

28 The truth about trich

What's behind the condition that gives

people the urge to pull out their hair, and

how can it be treated?

58 Gok Wan

13 years after How to Look Good Naked

first aired, Gok talks body confidence in

the digital age

68 Know your neuroscience

Could understanding our brain functions

be the key to unlocking confidence?



Life Stories

36 Katie: facing the future

Katie struggled to manage her mental

health for more than a decade, until

a diagnosis of bipolar offered her the

answers she needed to move forward

52 Ashley: in it together

Living with mental health and

neurodiversity, life hasn't always been

easy for Ashley. But in finding love and

a supportive online community, he's

finally embracing who he is


26 Back to school

Columnist Grace Victory explores the

anxiety that flares up in September

46 Live life, unfiltered

Read the life-affirming novel that gets frank

about what it takes to be the best you

51 Things to do in September

90 Quickfire: MH matters




87 Brian: a new me

It wasn't easy for Brian to admit that

he had developed a problem with

drinking. Today, he's renewed his

passion for life after reaching out for

the help that he needed




Lifestyle and


33 Good deeds for days

Five acts of kindness to help you give back

42 Bake Off's Kim-Joy

Social anxiety, and the benefits of baking

with the queen of cute cooking

57 This month's top picks

Content creator Simone Powderly shares

what she is loving right now

80 The Anna Edit

Blogger Anna Newton reflects on the

lessons she's learned as she approaches 30

83 BPD myths debunked

We break down some of the most common

misconceptions about BPD








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Food & Drink

62 Got granola?

Start your day right with this blissfully easy,

homemade fruity granola

64 Spot diet BS

Cut out the toxic talk and fad diets, and

start living your healthiest life

Happiful Hacks

24 Sing for joy

40 Hang up on phone phobia

48 Treating panic attacks at work

72 Bathing benefits


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Visit happiful.com


Meet the team of experts who have come together to deliver

information, guidance, and insight throughout this issue


BSc (Hons)

Simon is a psychotherapist

who supports adults,

children, and families.


PhD MSc BSc (hons) (cPsychol)

Audrey is a chartered

psychologist and

mindfulness expert.



Rachel is a life coach

encouraging confidence

and motivation.



Michelle is a nutritional

therapist and health



UKCP (Reg)

Fe is a psychotherapist

and couples counsellor,

based in Durham.


MBACP (Accred) BACP Reg Ind

Graeme is a counsellor

working with both

individuals and couples.



Rebecca Thair | Editor

Kathryn Wheeler | Staff Writer

Tia Sinden | Editorial Assistant

Keith Howitt | Sub-Editor

Fe Robinson | Expert Advisor

Amy-Jean Burns | Art Director

Charlotte Reynell | Graphic Designer

Rosan Magar | Illustrator


Kat Nicholls, Bonnie Evie Gifford,

Victoria Williams, Grace Victory, Becky Wright,

Audrey Tang, Lucy Donoughue,

Ellen Hoggard, Pixie Turner, Fiona Thomas,

Anna Newton, Hattie Gladwell,

Katie Conibear, Ashley Ford-McAllister,

Brian Parker


Paul Buller, Tom Buller, Krishan Parmar,

Alice Theobald, Simon Mathias, Graeme Orr,

Louise Watson, Rachel Coffey, Michelle Boehm,

Fe Robinson, Simone Powderly, Eleanor Thom


Lucy Donoughue

Head of Content and Communications



ANutr MSc

Pixie is a nutritionist, science

communicator, and author

addressing food myths.


MA MSc CPsychol AFBPsS

Louise is a chartered

psychologist and

integrative counsellor.

Amie Sparrow

PR Manager



Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

Emma White | Director & Co-Founder

Paul Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

Steve White | Finance Director


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If you are in crisis and are concerned for your

own safety, call 999, or go to A&E

Call Samaritans on 116 123 or email

them on jo@samaritans.org

Head to


for more services

and support



SANEline offers support and information from 4.30pm–10.30pm:

0300 304 7000


Mind offers advice Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, except bank

holidays: 0300 123 3393. Or email: info@mind.org.uk


The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is a line

for men, and is open from 5pm–midnight: 0800 58 58 58


Switchboard is a line for LGBT+ support. Open from 10am–10pm:

0300 330 0630. You can email: chris@switchboard.lgbt




Childline offers young people a confidential phone line, and relatives

can find support on their site. Visit childline.org.uk or call 0800 1111



Find support and information about the most common forms of

anxiety, and read about other people's experiences on

anxietyuk.org.uk, or call Anxiety UK's infoline on 03444 775 774



Charity Bipolar UK hosts advice, information and an online

community. Visit bipolaruk.org to find out more.



Browse hundreds of articles and fact sheets on a host of nutrition

topics, and find a professional nutritionist in your area at




Founded to offer specific support for those with BPD,

bpdworld.org offers information, and a community forum

with more than 50,000 members.

The Uplift


UK tour triumph

for drag troupe

with a difference

Founded in 2018, Drag Syndrome

– a drag troupe featuring performers

with Down’s syndrome – have been

touring the country, slaying the stage,

and putting visibility realness in

the spotlight.

Run by performance and dance

company Culture Device, the idea

for Drag Syndrome was born when

artistic director Daniel Vais took one

of the performers to a drag show with

him. Previously having put on ballet

shows and fashion shoots, Daniel

suggested the performers tried drag.

From there, Drag Syndrome was born.

The project has self-expression at

its heart – and for Daniel, that’s what

makes a show from Drag Syndrome

so compelling.

“I’m working with master

performers. They’ve got the skills

and talent to light up a stadium,

and touch each and every audience

member,” Daniel tells Happiful.

“Their commitment to their art and

career is astounding and inspiring. If

you like a good performance, go see

them in action.”

Driven by the performers, and

challenging perceptions of Down’s

syndrome while capturing the

energy of drag, Drag Syndrome is

a celebration of creativity that tells

stigma to sashay away.

Follow @dragsyndrome on Instagram

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Photography | Damien Frost

8 • happiful.com • September 2019


Lessons on the menopause will

now be taught in schools

Successful campaign will see changes made to secondary

school sex and relationship lessons in the UK

After a hysterectomy led her to

experience severe symptoms of the

menopause, psychotherapist Diane

Danzebrink has been campaigning

to raise awareness and improve

understanding, leading to lessons

on the menopause being added to

the school curriculum.

Speaking about her experience of

the menopause, she says it caused

her to fall into a dark place.

“I was lucky; I had a supportive

husband and family who got me

the help I needed when I was not

capable of doing that for myself,”

Diane told the BBC.

“Since then, I have become

increasingly aware of just how

many women are not receiving

the right support and advice about

menopause, from their doctors,

employers, and sometimes even

their own families and friends.”

Diane’s campaign began in

October 2018, and the government

now says the menopause will be

added to secondary school sex and

relationship lessons in the UK.

While the details are still to be

finalised, the then education

secretary, Damian Hinds,

confirmed the government’s

support, saying it was an important

part of reproductive education, and

“all children should learn about this

at school”.

With education comes

understanding and support – here’s

to more of both in the near future.

Writing | Kat Nicholls



could have

a positive

impact on your


When it comes to health and

wellbeing, social media has a

pretty bad rep. But a new study

from Edge Hill University,

Lancashire, has revealed

that WhatsApp may actually

have a positive impact on our

psychological wellbeing.

Researchers have revealed that

spending time chatting via the

popular messaging app may lead

to a higher sense of self-esteem,

reduced levels of loneliness, and

could help us feel closer to our

friends and family.

Prior research has suggested

social media platforms such as

Instagram and Snapchat may be

detrimental to our health, with

studies linking the time spent on

social media with increased levels

of depression and anxiety.

But when it comes to our

wellbeing, group chats and oneon-one

interactions are thought

to be some of the most beneficial

aspects of social media, thanks

to the increased sense of social

support. It could still be too early

to judge, but these latest findings

suggest tech may be able to

help us create new channels of

communication, and feel more

connected with others.

Now that’s something to text

home about!

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

September 2019 • happiful.com • 9

All my life through, the new

sights of nature made me

rejoice like a child



This is how long

you need to

spend in nature

From sweet little succulents to cute

cacti, we’re all a little preoccupied

with plants at the moment. While

getting a little greenery into our

homes and offices can do wonders

for our wellbeing, new research

suggests that spending just two

hours getting back to nature each

week could be enough boost our

health and wellbeing.

Researchers from the University

of Exeter Medical School have

revealed that spending time

exploring your local country park,

relaxing on a bench, or going for

a jaunt in the countryside, can

improve our physical and mental


The study of almost 20,000

participants revealed that

regardless of age, gender, or

ethnicity, we may still see a benefit

from just 120 minutes a week in

nature, and those with a disability

or long-term illness reported

similar boosts.

If you ask us, this sounds like the

perfect excuse to ditch your desk

for a leisurely lunch break outside!

Stuck in an office with not a leaf in

sight? Try spicing up your commute

by exploring the path less trodden,

and sneak in a little extra time

enjoying the fresh air.

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

September 2019 • happiful.com • 11

Take 5

Get those thinking caps on and put your linguistic skills

to the test as you tackle this month’s puzzling picks












Word Search

Find the following mental heath

related words in the grid






















Wheels in motion

Using the letters no more than once, make as

many words as possible of three or more

letters, always including the letter in the

middle of the wheel. Want an extra

challenge? Set yourself a time limit –

three minutes, GO!

5 = word wizard

10 = gaming guru

15+ words = Shakespearean superstar

How did you do?

Search 'freebies' at


to find the answers,

and more!

Going up

Reading for six

minutes a day

can reduce

stress by 68%

Rock on!

Climbing can

benefit our

mental health


berries are now a

thing in the US –

berry nice

7% of Brits

have more

takeaways than



47% of Brits


ending a

relationship due

to bad kissing

Going down




Cheesy does it

The sushi bar meets

cheese aficionados'

dreams, as Pick & Cheese

– a new restaurant where

food is delivered on a 40

metre conveyor belt

– is coming to


It's not to

brie missed!

Reworking roadworks

In a win for both the environment and travellers, a

pioneering new resurfacing system is being used on

a road in Yorkshire. The process recycles the old road

surface using 'cold repave' machinery, meaning the work

can be completed more quickly than with traditional

methods, and sees around 60% less waste going to

landfill! Sounds like a route to success.

If goats weren't

adorable enough

(if you haven't seen

the pyjama party

video, Google it

immediately!), new

research has revealed

they can perceive

emotions in

each other's




Bats? Frogs?

Rats? A new study

has revealed

the animals we

fear most – and,


spiders came out

the clear winner!

In contrast, cats

came out on top

as our faves!

Restoring some faith in human nature

Contrary to previous findings, new research suggests

that people really can rely on the kindness of strangers.

In a study reviewing CCTV footage of real-life conflicts in

multiple cities around the world, researchers found that

91% of the time, at least one bystander will intervene

to help victims of aggressive behaviour! In the past,

the 'bystander effect' was expected, but these findings

suggest a more positive outlook on helping each other.

Searching for support

Monthly UK Google searches

for 'mental health' have more

than doubled in the past four

years –from 27,800 in 2015 to

69,200 in 2019. It's also been

revealed that 893 phrases

related to mental health have

seen searches increase 37%

– the highest being 'anxiety',

'depression', and 'bipolar'. This

could be a sign of growing

awareness, and people ready

to reach out for help...

In a recent study, 52%

of people admitted to

kissing their dog more than

their partner – and prefer

sleeping in bed with their

dogs! Paws for


Hug it out

Did you know that

a good hug can not

only boost our immune

systems, but can also

reduce the chances of you

getting in to conflict afterwards as

well? By releasing oxytocin (the feel-good

hormone), it can soothe you throughout

the day, meaning your fight-or-flight

response is less sensitive, resulting

in fewer impulse reactions to stress.

I make that cuddle o'clock.

Cutting edge ideas

Pucker up!

Non-profit group, Steel

Warriors, is tackling knife

crime in the capital, by

melting down confiscated

knives, and creating

outdoor callisthenics parks

around London.

Since 2018, there has

been a 22% increase in

crimes involving knives,

and so finding a way to

address this that raises

awareness while bringing

communities together

in a positive way, is an

incredible feat.

Since 2018,

there has been

a 22% increase

in crimes

involving knives

The symbolic and striking

creations are also offering

people an opportunity to

get involved in one of the

world's fastest-growing

fitness trends – actively

tackling knife crime with

steely determination.

What is

cyber self-harm?

Nasty messages, vicious comments – we’ve all seen or heard

about online trolling, but what would cause someone to send

such hurtful comments to themselves?

Writing | Kat Nicholls

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Being a teenager is tough.

This is often when mental

health conditions first

appear, questions of

identity, and ‘where do I fit in?’

hang heavy in the air. This was

something I certainly wrestled with

as a teenager. It was also the time I

started self-harming.

Self-harm is when a person

intentionally causes themselves

harm, usually through cutting,

burning, or putting themselves in

dangerous situations.

Those who self-harm often use

it as a coping mechanism to help

them deal with difficult emotions.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise

then that, according to the Mental

Health Foundation, the majority

of people affected by self-harm are

aged 11–25. Something I didn’t have

to contend with at school, however,

was social media.

Times have changed, and so has

the mental health landscape. The

realm of self-harm has now

expanded and gone digital.


Cyber self-harm is when someone

uses an anonymous social media

platform to send themselves

abusive comments or messages.

While cyber self-harm is not as

well understood as cyber-bullying

and harassment, it’s thought to be a

growing problem.

A US survey published in the

Journal of Adolescent Health in 2017

sampled students between the ages

of 12 and 17, and found 6% had

sent themselves anonymous abuse

online. Looking at the gender split,

they found males

were more likely

to cyber self-harm

(7.1% compared

with 5.3%


14 • happiful.com • September 2019

If someone is cyber self-harming,

it doesn’t necessarily mean they

are harming themselves physically.

However, this can act as a catalyst.

Cyber self-harming can become

a habit, just like physical selfharming.

It may lead to conditions

like depression, low self-esteem,

eating disorders, or suicidal




To get a better understanding of

why people do this, I spoke with

Times have

changed, and so has

the mental health

landscape. The

realm of self-harm

has now gone digital

psychotherapist and Counselling

Directory member, Simon

Mathias. Simon has worked

with teenagers who have cyber

self-harmed and says, in his

experience, there are three main

reasons why they do this: to get

attention, for social compatibility,

and to receive positive remarks.

The attention-seeking reason

may appear controversial. In

the self-harm community, the

misconception that it is attentionseeking

is fiercely refuted. This

is where cyber self-harm differs.

Those who engage in it often want

others to notice.

“They see others being supported

when they report trolling. This

is then endorsed by the

reactions of the media when

celebrities report incidents.

They tend to want to have

attention paid to them by

friends, peers, or teachers,

rather than by parents,”

Simon explains.

Social compatibility is

often the reason when the

cyber self-harm activity

results in being accepted

or liked by others, and

the desire for positive

remarks can go

deeper than simply

wanting attention.

“This is where

the child wants

specific and direct

positive comments,

on aspects such as

their physical appearance,

what they have done etc. It may

be directed to get a response

from parents or family, but most

certainly friends, and usually

to counter the specific trolling




The nature of cyber self-harm can

make it difficult to spot. Ensuring

communication between you and

your child is open and honest

can help them feel more able to

come to you for support. Regular

conversations about social media

and negative comments will also

show that this is a topic they can

come to you about.

If you discover that your child is

self-harming in this way, it may

be tempting to ban social media

and take away their devices, but

this is rarely helpful. Instead,

it’s important to talk about

what’s happening, without any


“Once a child or teenager has

come for help it’s important to

build a confidential, safe and

trusting relationship. It’s best to

take the time to listen to their story

and allow them to open up.”

Helping your child identify

their strengths, and finding the

words they need to express their

emotions, is key too. It also helps

to focus on the underlying reasons

behind the cyber self-harming,

rather than the behaviour itself.

Finally, Simon says when your

child feels ready, you can suggest

visiting a counsellor.

“Today, most counsellors and

psychotherapists like myself use

a variety of approaches. It isn’t

all about talking. I have games,

outdoor activities, and a dog, that

help my clients work through their

thoughts and emotions.”

Support from friends, parents

and counsellors can be essential in

helping teenagers make sense of

their feelings, and to find healthier

ways to get what they need.

September 2019 • happiful.com • 15

Here I am

Star of the stage, page, and internet age – award-winning

actor, author, and YouTuber Carrie Hope Fletcher knows

better than most what it takes to live life in the spotlight.

From times when her personal life has been put under

a microscope, to the collision of her online and offline

worlds, here Carrie speaks candidly about rebuilding

yourself after a relationship ends, her experiences with

depression and anxiety, and the importance of having

your own back

Interview | Kathryn Wheeler

Photography | Paul Buller

Blouse | Topshop, Skirt | H&M, Belt | New Look, Shoes | Kurt Geiger

It was the night of the

30th anniversary of the

first London production

of Les Misérables; that,

Carrie Hope Fletcher

tells me, was the pinnacle of her

career so far. At the time, Carrie

was playing the role of Éponine,

and following the curtain call,

the current cast were joined on

stage by the original actors for

a half-hour concert, concluding

with a rousing rendition of ‘One

Day More’.

In the shuffle to fit everyone

under the spotlight, Carrie

found herself standing centre

stage next to Colm Wilkinson

– the original Jean Valjean. As

the song ended, and confetti

cannons and applause erupted,

Colm took Carrie’s hand and

said: “You were excellent.”

Of course, this was far from

Carrie’s first rodeo. Her big

break was aged five, featuring in

a Honey Nut Cheerios advert –

and by the time she was 11, she’d

already starred in three West

End shows. >>>

Today, Carrie’s fingers are

adorned with rings – one for each

show she’s starred in – and this

year she won ‘Best Actress in a

Musical’ for her performance

in Heathers: The Musical in the

WhatsOnStage Awards. But despite

all this, Carrie admits she still has

‘pinch me’ moments, and struggles

with imposter syndrome, and

feelings of self-doubt.

“It’s an insecurity of mine that

I always feel I have something

to prove because I never went to

drama school. I convince myself

that I don’t deserve to be here,”

Carrie says. “But then you talk to

other people who have been to

drama school, and they think the

same thing. Everyone convinces

themselves that they don’t deserve

to be where they are.”

Meeting Carrie – who is calm,

attentive, and warm – you may not

suspect the current of anxiety that,

she explains, is often meandering

below the surface.

“I feel like I walk through life with

a bubble over my head,” Carrie

says. “It’s just my own thoughts

bouncing around, and I come

up with every single scenario of

what could go wrong, and then a

contingency plan for each.”

Carrie shares how recently she

was due to meet her boyfriend

– fellow West End actor Oliver

Ormson – and his castmates for

drinks after rehearsals. As she

approached the bar, Carrie felt

her heart begin to beat faster as

anxiety, at the thought of walking

into a room full of people she didn’t

know, set in. The evening went

absolutely fine, and afterwards

Carrie was frustrated that she spent

so much time worrying about it.

Blouse | Topshop, Shorts | H&M, Headscarf | New Look

18 • happiful.com • June 2019

It’s something that many others

who experience anxiety will

relate to. But putting feelings

and experiences that are rarely

articulated into words is something

of a speciality for Carrie. In 2015, at

the age of 22, Carrie published her

first book, All I Know Now. Written

on train journeys between her job

at the West End, and home where

she would film, edit and upload

YouTube videos – and aimed at her

then-teenage following – the book

sought to address the worries and

hurdles that Carrie herself had

come up against as a teen. And it

did so with huge success, topping

the charts as a Sunday Times


“Everyone convinces

themselves that they

don’t deserve to be

where they are”

Why did I make that decision? Why

didn’t I just calm down?’

“Then I look around at the people

who are exactly the same age as

I am, and one of them has three

kids, one of them is single and

travelling, one of them has created

her own business and she’s just

bought a mansion.

“There’s no one way to do things.

There’s no: you get a house, you

have kids, and you live out the rest

of your days with your husband

and your children.”

Carrie’s right. While there may

have once been a check-list

for a good life, now things are

increasingly less directed. We have

much more freedom to choose our

own paths, but that doesn’t mean

things are easier.

The conundrum of modern life

is something Carrie explores in a

recent heart-on-her-sleeve blog

post, ‘Trips with Exes’. Following

a visit to Disneyland Paris in July,

Carrie reflected on how she had

also been there with previous

boyfriends – in 2012 and 2015. She

notes how, as a society in 2019,

we’re in a strange situation where

we no longer expect to have just one

partner for our entire lives, but we

haven’t yet learned how to deal with

the legacy of past relationships.

“Especially when they’re archived

on the internet,” adds Carrie.

“Someone asked me why I hadn’t

deleted all the photos with my exboyfriend,

and I’m like, because it

happened! I’m not going to erase

every trace of my ex. I was with

him, I spent two and a half years

with him. I’m not going to pretend

it didn’t happen.”

While Carrie finds being open

about such topics cathartic, having

been active online for eight years

now, she’s had to learn where to

draw the line when it comes to

letting people into her life.

“You know where your line is,

and you know that your line is here.

But other people think your line is

much closer to you than it actually

is – and they don’t realise that when

you put a 10-minute video up, that’s

10 minutes of a week.”

That said, Carrie looks back on a

time when YouTube, and sharing

her life, was her whole world.

Her journey into the online world

began in 2011, when she first began

uploading videos to the site. A mix

of singing covers and chatty vlogs,

Carrie quickly amassed a following

that today sits at more than half a


“When I started I was 19, which is

fetal now I think about it,” she says.

“That’s a weird time to be sharing

yourself with strangers, because

you still don’t know who that self is.

“And then I got into Les Mis, and I

had to move my focus somewhere

else. I was still making videos,

but I wasn’t so much a part of the

YouTube community, and I realised

how much I enjoyed that. When

you’re submerged in one thing

it’s all you ever think about, it’s all

you ever do, and the people you’re

speaking about only ever have

one perspective – which is being a


That ‘YouTube community’ was

the focus of much attention in

the early years of this decade. A

level playing field, mainly driven

by young people like Carrie,

where everyone was welcome

to join the movement – YouTube

was revolutionising the media

landscape at a drastic rate.

Fuelled by a cocktail of rapidlychanging

hormones, bad

haircuts, and general angst, our

teenage years are some of the

most memorable, but also most

challenging. It makes perfect

sense that so many people would

jump at the chance to read a

guide like Carrie’s. But, now 26,

Carrie looks back at the four years

that have passed since the book

was published, and sees them as

equally formative.

“There are times in your life

where even a year or two makes

such a difference,” she reflects. “I

think about myself a year ago and

say: ‘Oh God, what was I thinking? >>>

September 2019 • happiful.com • 19

20 • happiful.com • August 2019

Blouse | Topshop, Skirt | H&M, Belt | New Look, Shoes | Kurt Geiger

And while much of the same can

still be said today, 2014 remains

a difficult time in the platform’s


“A lot of things happened; there

were a lot of scandals,” says Carrie.

“People didn’t want to associate

themselves with others too heavily,

just in case something went wrong.

I think everyone’s still a bit scared

of that now.”

From early 2014, sexual abuse

scandals shocked the YouTube

community, with numerous

allegations made against several

UK creators. At the centre of

this was Carrie’s ex-boyfriend

– a prominent creator who was

accused of abuse and inappropriate

behaviour in 14 separate


“It was such a horrendous time

for everybody,” Carrie says. “When

I started dating him, people told

me: ‘He’s cheated in the past, so

just be careful.’ But I was that girl

who thought: ‘I’ll change him, it’ll

be different with me.’ He was very

charming, and he was quite aloof,

so when he was giving me attention

I felt special. And I was 19 – I was

so young.

“There will be people who will

read this interview and say: ‘I’m 19

or 20, and I know better.’ I promise

you, you don’t. I thought I knew

better, I thought I knew it all. But I

was so oblivious to what was going

on. I was surprised when I found

out he cheated on me with one

person, and then I found out it was

seven. But you couldn’t have told

me, there was no way.”

Carrie describes the incident, and

the allegations, as driving a wedge

through her life. Looking back, she

sees her life in two acts: ‘before it

happened’ and ‘after it happened’.

“Of course there are things that are

different now, like how I conduct

my relationships – when emotional

things like that happen, you’re

left with a few soul scars. But I’ve

surrounded myself with an amazing

group of friends, an amazing

boyfriend, and my incredible family,

so I never need to worry because I’ve

always got people to fall back on.”

Five years on, Carrie’s willingness

to be candid about her experience,

as well as her mental health, is one

part of what makes her such a real

and refreshing person for all those

who follow her.

“I think it’s the actor in me,”

Carrie says, as she ponders

what’s behind her emotional

veracity. “I’m very happy to be

like: ‘Here I am, take it all!’”

She explains how the

depression she experienced

for years was a side-effect of

the birth control she was on –

something women have been

reporting anecdotally for years,

but was only confirmed in 2018

by a study from the University of


“I’ve finally found a pill

that works for me, and the >>>

September 2019 • happiful.com • 21

depression side of things is

something that I don’t really have

to deal with now. But the anxiety

side of things…” Carrie puts her

face in her hands, and laughs in


“Ever since I was a kid I’ve been a

nervous person. But when you’re in

an industry where you won’t get a

role because you’re an inch too tall,

or too short, your eyes are brown or

blue, or even because you’re too fat

to play that role – you’re constantly

very self-aware. That’s just within

the industry – then when you have

fans, and there’s a whole other side.”

The stage door is the place where

Carrie’s online and offline worlds

collide. Fans wait for Carrie to come

out after a show, and while she has

had incredible experiences, the

attention has been overwhelming,

and even scary at times.

Carrie’s open, nurturing nature

has meant that people often come

to her for advice. What began as

messages online, soon translated

into real-life encounters; Carrie

recalls a time when someone

approached her after a show, to

tell her they were planning to take

their own life the next day.

“What do you do?” Carrie asks

with dismay. “It’s happened on

more than one occasion, and

it’s hard because I want to help,

but I don’t know how. I’m not a

counsellor, I’m an actress. I’m not

equipped to deal with people’s

emotional trauma.”

It’s an unimaginable load, and

something that Carrie – and others

in similar influential positions –

have to bear, never quite knowing

what the outcome will be.

Another, albeit milder, challenge

of Carrie’s multifaceted career is the

way that she’s perceived by others.

While some artists have been

able to break free of the YouTuber

bubble, into the mainstream,

capturing a three-dimensional

career on platforms that demand

you to stay ‘on-brand’ isn’t easy.

“It’s funny, I get this weird sense

of pride when someone says: ‘Oh,

you’re the author!’ It’s not because

I value being an author over

everything else, it’s because it takes

me off-guard. If someone comes

to my show, they will always think

of me as an actor first – and if they

find my videos, they’ll always think

of me as a Youtuber.

“It’s not my business

what other people

think of me – that’s

my mantra”

“But it’s not my business what

other people think of me – that’s

my mantra,” says Carrie, though

she admits it’s a journey, rather

than a destination. “I don’t think

there will ever be a point where

I’m happy just to forget how I’m

perceived by other people. But me

now, compared to me three years

ago – we’re completely different

people. It’s a miracle.”

As we’re finishing up our

interview, we get chatting about

tattoos. Carrie has several on her

feet (“But if I wasn’t an actor, I’d be

covered!”), and one on her side that

features the line, ‘An inexplicable

sense of happiness’ from her 2016

novel On the Other Side. In the story,

a couple called Vincent and Evie

write love notes to each other on

the wings of a dove. As the dove

flies by, he’s so covered in love that

he leaves the people he passes with

an inexplicable sense of happiness.

“That’s what I kind of wish for

myself,” says Carrie. “That’s the goal;

that’s how I want to live my life. I

want to spend time with people, and

then leave, and have those people

feel better than they did before.”

While Carrie disappears into the

changing room to try on the first

look of the photoshoot – singing

along to Cliff Edwards’ ‘When You

Wish Upon a Star’, as it plays over

the studio speakers – I’m struck by

the self-sufficiency there is in living

by your own words.

But more than that, from her

passion and creativity, to the

seriousness with which she takes

supporting the strangers who turn

to her in their time of need, Carrie

Hope Fletcher is a woman who went

through personal challenges – both

in and out of the spotlight – and

came out stronger, wiser, and full

of hope.

As for whether Carrie leaves

people feeling better for having

spent time with her? I know that

I speak for the whole team on the

shoot that day when I say, she’s a


Carrie is starring in ‘Les Misérables:

The All-Star Staged Concert’ which

opens at the Gielgud Theatre on 10

August 2019 for 16 weeks. Find out

more at lesmis.com/london

Follow Carrie on Instagram

@Carriehopefletcher, and search for

ItsWayPastMyBedTime on YouTube.

Styling | Krishan Parmar

Hair & Makeup | Alice Theobald at Joy

Goodman using Burt’s Bees, L’Anza,

Dollbaby, Lord & Berry, and Mavala

September 2019 • happiful.com • 23

Five benefits of

singing your heart out

Whether you have vocal pipes to rival Beyoncé, or would describe yourself as ‘musically

challenged’, singing can do wonders for your wellbeing. Now that’s music to our ears...

Writing | Victoria Williams

Artwork | Charlotte Reynell

As children, we sang

nursery rhymes, joined

in with the radio, and

(much to our families’

delight) belted out that

one song we loved so much it was

on repeat for a fortnight. Growing

up, though, many of us stopped.

I loved singing when I was young,

but a crash in confidence before

my teens meant that I suddenly

didn’t want anyone hearing my

voice – not even myself.

Taking the leap and joining a

choir was scary, but remains one of

the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Singing has physical, mental, and

social benefits, and it’s certainly

done wonders for my nervous

mind. Opera aficionado or tuneless

warbler, here are five ways it can

improve your wellbeing.


Singing requires controlled

breathing, and is used carefully

to make sure the sound doesn’t

die away before the end of a line.

Regulating the breath like this

acts much like yoga breathing,

calming the body and mind, and

promoting lung and heart health.

Taking deeper breaths increases

blood circulation too, improving

concentration, and boosting your

immune system. Good singing

breaths need to be supported by

good posture to give your lungs

room to expand, and allow the

sound to travel freely. Standing tall

benefits your back, relieves muscle

tension and, over time, can help

you to feel more confident.


Anyone who sings in a choir will tell

you that it’s great fun, and they really

feel part of something special when

everyone sings together. Studies

have shown that just 40 minutes of

singing in a group reduces cortisol,

the stress hormone, and that

people taking a group singing class

bond much faster than people in

other group activities. A study by

Gothenburg University, Sweden,

even found that choir members’

heartbeats synchronise when they

sing together. It’s often this bond,

and shared love of music, that makes

choirs appealing, and they can be

incredibly beneficial for people

struggling with loneliness or low



I’ve mentioned that cortisol drops

as you sing, but what’s even better

is that it’s replaced by a cocktail

of feel-good hormones called

endorphins. Finally getting a

tricky bit of music right, putting a

beautiful harmony together, or just

belting out a favourite song triggers

endorphins like oxytocin and

dopamine, creating a rush similar

to the feeling after a good laugh, or

a hug. The deep, controlled breaths

used increase the flow of blood as

it transports the hormones around

the body, helping them to have an

even greater effect.


A combination of endorphins,

posture, strong bonds, and heartswelling

music, make group

singing an ideal confidence

booster. If, like me, you don’t feel

comfortable in the spotlight, it’s a

perfect environment for expressing

yourself without the pressure of

having all attention on you. Over

time, you can build up to singing

solos, or taking lessons to push the

boundaries of your comfort zone.

You might surprise yourself. If

joining a choir really isn’t for you,

singing can still do wonders for

your confidence; simply standing

tall and becoming comfortable

with your voice can have powerful

effects on your everyday life, and

the way you communicate.


Is there anything more freeing

than singing along to the car radio

at top volume, knowing no one

can hear you? You don’t have to

sing seriously, or well, to feel the

benefits, so don’t let an inability

to stay in tune, or a tendency to

make up lyrics, hold you back. Try

putting together a set of playlists

for different situations: an upbeat

one for down days and mornings

when you’re struggling to wake

up, a calming one for bedtime

and anxious moments, and an

empowering one to help you

through any confidence


Victoria is a science writer, with a

background in evolutionary biology.

Find a choir in your local area

at bigbigsing.org



Author, TedX speaker, and queen of empowerment,

Grace Victory shares her experience and insight each month

with Grace


remember the feeling like

yesterday. Waking up before

my alarm, staring across

my bedroom to see my

uniform laid over the giant

pile of clothes on my chair that I

should’ve tidied weeks before, and

a brand new backpack that I just

had to have.

The energy of anticipation about

starting a new school year would

trickle through the morning air.

All I could think about was if

anyone would look different, if

I would look different, and the

friends I couldn’t wait to see. I’d

brush my teeth a little harder, dab

on an extra layer of clear lipgloss,

and leave for the bus 10 minutes

earlier – you know, just in case.

When September arrives, both

parent and child may experience

an increase in anxiety, and while

this can be normal, most of us

know how difficult it can be to

manage. It can feel like impending

danger, confusion, panic, and like

you’re floating but wishing your

feet would touch the ground.

For parents, maybe you’re picking

up on your child’s energy, and can

sense they’re a little anxious about

the year ahead? Maybe you have

childhood wounds that start to

open during this time? Whatever

the reasons, I have compiled a few

ways to manage this anxiety for

both of you.


All parents know that the key

for a somewhat smooth life is to

prepare. Although this doesn’t

always guarantee there will be no

mishaps, it does mean less stress

if difficult feelings and situations

arise. A dummy school run is a

good way to help decrease anxiety,

as you can both experience what

it will be like. You can also write

a checklist of all the things you

need to remember, and pop it on

the fridge. Practising a situation

will help it to feel less scary when

you experience the real thing.

This also eliminates the fear of the

unknown – especially if your child

is starting school for the first time,

or is starting somewhere new.


It’s really important that the child

can communicate how they feel.

Sometimes anxiety will manifest into

the physical with symptoms such as

withdrawal, heavy breathing, and

sweaty palms, but you also might not

always be able to see anxiety with

the naked eye. Ask your child how

they feel, and create an environment

where they are able to express their

feelings – even if they can’t identify

that it is anxiety. Empower and

encourage them. Remind them that

feeling nervy before a new school

year is normal, and tell them they’re

brave and strong.




Although communication is great, it doesn’t always

decrease anxiety, and for some, it can heighten it.

The energetic path of any feeling needs to leave the

body at some point, so that we can reset to the present

moment. Grounding techniques are something I

learned in therapy, and often appear in my counselling

training. Focusing on sounds around you is a great way

to bring your heart rate back down, and to distract you

from difficult feelings. Hear the birds, the washing

machine, the kettle boiling. This is a reminder that you

are here, and you are safe. Another simple but effective

technique is to feel your feet underneath you. This

helps to stabilise you, and to give a little nudge to your

brain that you’re OK.

+ + + +

Photography (black and white) | Paul Buller


When it comes to managing my

mental health, I have a toolbox

full of things that make me feel

better. Maybe have a drawer in

your house, or a box in the car,

that you can reach into when

needed. I suggest the following

for anxiety:

• Lavender essential oil

(calming and relaxing),

or bergamot is a great


• Affirmation cards can be a

gentle reminder that you’ve

got this, you’re amazing, and

these feelings will pass.

• Water and snacks, because

drinking and eating

regulates your breath, which

is definitely needed when

you’re anxious.

• And lastly, something

comforting – a teddy, a

photo, whatever suits the


So there we have it. My first

ever column complete!

Sending love and courage to

those experiencing anxiety of

any kind, but especially those

who are going back to school.

Until next month.


Grace x





A compulsive desire

to pull out one’s

own hair

28 • happiful.com • September 2019

In the spotlight:

Hair-pulling disorder

Have you ever had an urge to do something and not really

understood why? I have. Throughout my adolescence, I

was plagued by trichotillomania

Writing | Becky Wright

Trichotillomania, or trich

for short (because who’s

got the time for seven

syllables when you’re an

impulsive hair-puller?), is an old

friend of mine. For me, it meant

years of pulling out hair from my

scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes

but, for others, it can be hair on

any part of the body.

At the age of 13, I had near

enough no eyelashes, no idea why

I couldn’t stop pulling them out,

and an ever decreasing sense of

self-esteem. I hated myself for

what I was doing but, equally, I

couldn’t make myself stop. I came

to rely on makeup as a masking

tool, hiding the physical signs that

something was going on inside

my head.

I can’t actually place a finger on

the first time I had that urge, but,

of all the struggles I’ve faced in

my life, this is one that I’m still yet

to understand.

What is hair-pulling?

From my own research, I know

that trich is often triggered by

anxiety, and is commonly linked

with obsessive compulsive

disorder (OCD). However, while

there are some similarities

between the two, there are a

couple of key differences.

To understand more, I spoke to

chartered counselling psychologist

Louise Watson, who explains:

“The main difference is that OCD

rituals are driven by the need to

rid oneself of an intrusive thought,

whereas the urge to pull a hair out

in trichotillomania is often not

preceded by a thought.

“Pulling hairs can be a response

to anxiety, and instances of pulling

can often increase at times of

stress, but pulling can also just as

often be a response to other mood

states. And, it can happen entirely

unconsciously,” says Louise.

So, rather than being initiated by

an intrusive thought, it is a bodyfocused

repetitive behaviour that

is done to reduce tension, stress,

or even out of habit.

The reality of the condition, in

a world that prizes hair (in all the

right places), means that trich

sufferers feel even more isolated

and at odds with their feelings.

Particularly as symptoms typically

rear their head during adolescent

years, which can already be a

tricky time for self-esteem and

body image.

How common is trich?

If you do a Google search (and,

believe me, I’ve Googled it a lot

over the years), there isn’t much >>>

September 2019 • happiful.com • 29

in the way of UKbased


Nor will you come

across many reallife

experiences. I

know that it’s not

one of the more

common mental

health problems but,

according to Anxiety

UK, it is now thought

to be more prevalent

than previously


Although there

have been no large

studies to date on

the prevalence of

trichotillomania, one

in the US showed that,

among a sample of

students, 1–2% had a

past or current history

of trich. So, it would

seem that perhaps

it’s more about the

reluctance of people

to open up about their

struggles that is adding

to the elusiveness of

the disorder.


For more information and advice

about treating trichotillomania, visit:

nhs.uk – The NHS site has further

details on symptoms, causes, and

support, along with information on

treatments, and self-help advice.

counselling-directory.org.uk or

hypnotherapy-directory.org.uk –

For information, articles, or to find a

professional who can support with

treatment options.

The reality of the

condition, in a world

that prizes hair (in all the

right places), means that

trich sufferers feel even

more isolated and at

odds with their feelings

Author: Becky Wright

I spoke to Natalie Richardson

about her experience.

“I struggled with trich

briefly as a young child, but it

resurfaced in my 20s and it’s

something I still struggle with

today,” she tells me.

“I’ve no idea what the trigger

was as a child; I used to twirl my

hair around my finger and then

rip it out in chunks. But, when it

restarted a few years ago, I think it

was triggered by the breakdown of

a long-term relationship.”

So, why does it occur?

For anyone who’s not experienced

these feelings, I bet it’s a hard

one to comprehend. Why not

just stop? It’s a question I’ve

asked myself hundreds of times

before. But, for anyone with the

impulses, I’m sure they’d tell you

the same thing. Telling someone

not to do something they feel an

overwhelming urge to do is like

telling someone not to scratch

when they have an itch.

The problem is, it’s not entirely

clear what causes trich. Experts

have hypothesised it could be a

way of dealing with emotional

distress – perhaps even a type of

self-harm. Louise isn’t convinced

though: “Sufferers can find the

pain from pulling the hair out

rewarding, which is what has

led to trichotillomania being

likened to self-harm. However,

trichotillomania sufferers

rarely report a desire to punish

themselves, and the behaviour

can be triggered at times of

under-stimulation – rather

than always being a response to

intense emotions, as self-harm

usually is.”

Others suggest it could be due

to a chemical imbalance in

the brain, or due to changing

hormone levels in puberty. For

some people, though, it’s thought

that trich could even be a type of

addiction; the more they act on

the impulse, the more they want

to keep doing it.

30 • happiful.com • September 2019

However trichotillomania

first occurs, the brain begins

to associate the completion of

the urge with a sense of relief.

Louise provides some insight:

“Many people report of a building

physical urge to pull, which is

replaced by a feeling of release,

or discharge of physical tension,

when the hair is pulled out.” So,

whenever the body feels stressed,

anxious or tense, the brain’s

automatic response is to compel

the person to pull out their hair.

“My hair-pulling is less regular

than it used to be, but it always

gets worse if I am stressed or

anxious,” says Natalie. “I

would also definitely

refer to myself as a

perfectionist and, to

be honest, even a bit

of a control freak. I do think that

those traits contribute to being a


The perfectionist thing is

something that I whole-heartedly

relate to. And, interestingly, when

I asked psychologist Louise about

this, she concurred.

“Trichotillomania sufferers often

appear to have perfectionistic

traits, which explains why pulling

is frequently preceded by the

search for ‘the right hair’. This

may be a hair that feels different

from the rest, such as being

rougher or thicker, and can often

make it difficult for sufferers to

resist pulling out new hairs as

they grow back after an episode,”

Louise explains.

How is trich treated?

A commonly used treatment is

a type of cognitive behavioural

therapy (CBT) called habit reversal

training, but it’s also thought

that hypnosis could be effective

Telling someone not to do

something they feel an

overwhelming urge to do is like

telling someone not to scratch

when they have an itch

in helping sufferers break the

habitual thought-patterns. To be

successful, you have to replace

the urge with something that’s not


“In my experience, the most

significant factor in breaking the

habit cycle is having an increased

awareness of times when you are

likely to pull, so that you can preempt

them,” says Louise. “Equally

important is finding a competing

response (or range of responses)

that can be used to replace the

pulling behaviour at those times.

Carrying out the competing

response instead of pulling should

help reduce the urge, although it

may not eradicate it entirely.”

What that response is will differ

from person to person, and

situation to situation. Ideally,

though, it should be something

that keeps your hands occupied

and away from your hair –

perhaps even simply holding

something, Louise tells me.

“An advantage to having

something in your hands is that

you will need to put it down

before you act upon the urge

to pull. This not only brings

the pulling into conscious

awareness, but it also gives you

those critical few moments

where you can decide whether

going along

with the urge is

something you

really want to do.”

Am I over these

urges? For the most

part, I think so.

But, sitting here

writing this now, I

can feel the same

sense of dread that

used to haunt me

almost on a daily

basis. Perhaps that is a good

thing, though. Even after all

these years, the memory of how

trichotillomania made me feel

still hangs heavy on my heart.

This article has been difficult

for me to write, but I feel I

have finally acknowledged the

torment of my teenage mind

and addressed the stigma (and,

indeed, the lack of knowledge)

around this condition.

If you’re dealing with trich right

now, or if you’re a parent worried

about your child, please know

that it won’t last forever. I’m now

free from these urges and, with a

little time and patience, you could

be too.

September 2019 • happiful.com • 31

Happiful Hero

Photography | Bruno Cervera

Life moves pretty fast. If you

don’t stop and look around once

in a while, you could miss it

32 • happiful • December 2018 – FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF

Spread a little kindness

Kindness is contagious, and

this month we want to see

it go viral. Below are some

easy ways you can give back

Writing | Kat Nicholls

Do some litter-picking

There are lots of ways we can

be kinder to the environment.

Sometimes it’s the small, simple

steps that make the most impact.

Picking up rubbish when you

see it is something we can all

do. Visit keepbritaintidy.org to

join a clean-up in your area,

or get involved in the Great

British Beach Clean taking place

20–23 September (visit mcsuk.org/


for more info).

Leave positive feedback

When things go wrong, we can be

quick to make a complaint, but

when was the last time you told

someone what a great job they

did? A great way to incorporate

this into your routine is to start

your day with a compliment.

When you first look at your

phone, send a text to a friend you

haven’t seen in forever, or write a

quick complimentary email to a

colleague, before diving head-first

into your inbox.

Reminisce with the elderly

Talking about past memories

and reminiscing with the older

community has been found to be

beneficial, especially if the person

you’re chatting to has dementia

or Alzheimer’s. Try bringing up

music or films they loved when

they were younger, and ask them

about their lives. (Visit ageuk.org.

uk for more advice on caring for

the elderly.)

Pass on a book that

impacted you

Have you read a book recently that

made you laugh out loud, cry, or

gasp in disbelief? Rather than stash

the book in a drawer, never to see

the light of day again, why not pass

it on to someone else? Offer it to

friends, family, or colleagues, or

use a book swap service online. We

love bookcrossing.com, where you

release a book ‘into the wild’ for a

stranger (or another BookCrossing

member) to find and track where it

ends up via journal entries around

the world.

Leave a note of

encouragement for someone

Arm yourself with some Postit

notes, a pen, and some

encouraging words to spread a

little kindness wherever you are.

Waiting rooms can often be a place

of vulnerability for people, so

why not pop some notes into the

pile of magazines? Reading your

words may help someone feel a

little calmer about their upcoming


Ask the experts



I was bullied throughout my

childhood. I’ve moved on,

but whenever I’m stressed or

under pressure at work, I fall back into

those feelings of doubt, self-hate, and

worthlessness. How can I get past this?


The role of our mind is to keep us safe.

When those feelings of doubt, self-hate and

worthlessness come up, understand that our mind is

simply trying to keep us safe. Your freedom will come

when you acknowledge what your mind is trying to

do, but explain to it that you are safe, and are not

under threat. Your goal is to counteract the negative

self-talk with words of resilience, strength, and of

how much you’ve grown since this experience.

Ben Bidwell, life coach, personal trainer, speaker, NLP practitioner,

and co-host of ‘The Naked Professors’ podcast, answers your

questions on self-esteem

Discover more about

Ben and coaching at




I’m worried about

a friend. More and

more often she

is avoiding coming out

with us or not joining in

conversations. I know she

thinks she’s not interesting,

but I’m worried she is going

to push everyone away.

What can I do to help?

AFind a way to get time with her,

give her space to talk to you, and

ask open questions that invite her to

explain more about how she is feeling.

Be compassionate and empathetic

with her, let her know you understand,

that you are there for her, and that you

are not judging her.

“Build her trust and

help to rebuild her


Be patient, kind, and curious; you are

interested and she is interesting. From

there, see if you can get to the bottom

of her challenges, and reassure her

that you understand. Build her trust

and help to rebuild her confidence.

Look to do small things with her where

she feels comfortable, and slowly build

on that.

34 • happiful • September 2019

Life coaching advice



“The more you love

yourself, the more you will

allow yourself to be loved

by others”


I came out of a longterm


recently and I’m

struggling with dating. I

love the closeness of being

in a relationship, but don’t

feel good enough for a new

love interest yet. How can I

move on?

ASometimes we do need time.

Don’t force yourself to feel

differently if you don’t feel ready. While

you sit in this space, use the time to

fall in love with yourself. The more you

love yourself, the more you will allow

yourself to be loved by others and

have a healthy, fulfilling relationship.

Learning to love yourself starts with

getting to know your deepest values,

then aligning your behaviour with

those values. A healthy relationship

starts with the one you have with

yourself – get that right and the rest,

including healthy relationships, will


Connect with your deepest values, then live by them.

Don’t sacrifice what you want most, for what you want now.

Do what makes you proud, fall in love with yourself.

Get out of your comfort zone. When you do you’ll become

proud of your achievements, and realise how uncomfortable

it was to stay the same. Be brave, explore what excites you,

and don’t be scared to fail.

Live to please your own soul, not your ego or other people.

Find coaching support at Life Coach Directory | Part of the Happiful Family

Bipolar doesn’t

control me, and I’m

more than a diagnosis

From manic highs

to depressive lows,

without a diagnosis

I felt hopeless

For more than a decade, Katie

fought a lonely battle with her

mental health and had no

answers. But now, after finally

being diagnosed as bipolar, she

faces the future with confidence

Writing | Katie Conibear

At 26, it seemed I had

my life sorted. I had

a successful career,

an active social life,

and a steady, loving

relationship. However in my head, in my

own reality, my life was crumbling.

I had been trapped in a cycle of

extreme mood swings since I was a

teenager, and all I wanted was for it to

stop. In the months before, I had been

manic and out of control. I hadn’t slept

and spent money I didn’t have. I caused

two car accidents and acted on impulse,

while being extremely intense and

talkative, or angry and irrational. Now,

vicious voices in my head shouted and

screamed at me to end it all. I couldn’t

see a way forward, and I felt eerily calm

about the idea of taking my own life. >>>

Katie married her partner

Jimi in 2015

My life had changed at

14. Although I was living

in a stable, caring family

home, I became severely

depressed. It had been

building for months, and I

became more withdrawn;

I didn’t understand why I

felt numb and worthless,

or why I no longer cared

if I was alive. I ended up

not going to school for six

months. But then I saw

a psychologist and felt I

could speak openly about

my feelings. I wanted to

get better, which was vital

to the process.

Yet something strange

happened when I

returned to school. I

became increasingly

confident, loud and brash

– everyone noticed, but

I felt like nothing was

wrong. I felt the best I

ever had.

I decided to go to

university, and that’s

where my behaviour and

moods started to unravel.

I would sleep less than

three hours a night, hardly

ate, and started to hear

voices. I would go out

partying, straight to my

job at 5am, then lectures,

and start all over again

that night. I never felt

tired, just full of life.

Without warning my

mood crashed. I hid in

my room, scared to bump

into anyone and have to

explain why my behaviour

had changed so drastically.

I dropped out of

university in the first year,

desperately depressed.

My life became a cycle

of churning moods –

from ecstatically high

to incredibly low, and

seemed to be controlled by

them. I studied childcare

at college, but became

angry and combative

towards my lecturers. I

ended up walking out in

a fit of rage, two months

before graduating. Luckily,

I found an apprenticeship

in childcare.

This was when I

first started taking

antidepressants. But

instead of stabilising

me, they made me

feel superhuman and I

would stop taking them,

convinced everything was

all right.

I had two serious

relationships, which

both ended because they

couldn’t deal with how

much I would change,

month by month. They

never knew which Katie

they were going to get.

I started to believe that I

was a broken person, who

was intrinsically flawed

and would never find

happiness. Then I started

seeing Jimi when I was 23.

We instantly clicked. He

had a calming influence

and wouldn’t overreact

at my sometimes bizarre

behaviour. We moved in

together and I started

as a family worker for

a group of children’s

centres – a job I was

passionate about, making

a difference.

From the outside I

seemed to have a perfect

life, but inside I was

struggling. Doctors

didn’t understand why

my physical health was

suffering, or why I kept

coming back depressed

and exhausted.

The voices in my head

grew louder and more

intrusive. When I was

depressed, I would lie in

bed begging them to go

away. Sometimes they

would urge me to be more

impulsive, more reckless.

These voices filled me

with confidence and a

surge of adrenaline. They

became a major part of

my life and I missed them

when they were gone.

38 • happiful.com • September 2019

I started to believe that I was

a broken person, who was

intrinsically flawed and would

never find happiness

Katie blogs at stumblingmind.com, and has a podcast,

‘A Life Lived Vividly’, with a focus on hearing voices

This experience of

psychosis, along with a

long, intense period of

hyperactive behaviour,

led me to the lowest I had

ever felt. I had to leave the

job I loved, and became

suicidal. It was like my life

had come full circle, and

I felt like that frightened

14-year-old again. I was

exhausted from spending

a decade in a battle with

my mind. I felt there were

no answers, and no hope.

Finally, in December

2012, I was given an

answer: I was diagnosed

with bipolar disorder.

Although the diagnosis

didn’t solve everything,

it showed me I wasn’t

flawed; I was ill.

Eventually I found a

mix of medications that

worked for me, and I

began to experience times

when I felt stable. I started

going to a Bipolar UK

support group, where I

no longer felt alone. The

group discussions helped

me spot the warning signs

and identify that alcohol,

a lack of sleep, and stress

triggered my episodes.

Jimi and I got married in

2015. He is compassionate,

caring, and the most

supportive person in my

life. I feel truly lucky to

have found someone who

has taken my illness in his

stride and been able to see

beyond it – to see me as a

person. With his support,

I’ve been able to accept

my diagnosis.

I started writing a blog,

Stumbling Mind, and I’ve

found it really therapeutic.

This lead to me writing

for charities and websites.

I’m not afraid to be open

with others, and have

had so much support

from friends, family, and

complete strangers.

Although I can’t work

full-time, writing has

given me a renewed sense

of purpose. I’ve learnt

that although I’ve had to

make adjustments to my

life, I can still live well.

Bipolar doesn’t control

me, and I’m more than a


Bipolar is a life-long

condition, but it can be

managed with the correct

treatment. I still suffer

from difficult episodes of

mania and depression, but

I’m continually learning

to educate myself and

manage my condition. I

no longer feel frightened

and alone, but instead I

feel in control and positive

about the future.


Katie experienced mood

swings and critical

voices from her teenage

years, which impacted

her education and

relationships. Things

improved on meeting her

partner, who helped her

to cope. After getting her

bipolar diagnosis, she

finally found her selfbelief,

started receiving

treatment, and met

support groups. Mental

illness can overwhelm us,

and seem like we’re the

only one feeling this way.

But recognising symptoms,

and getting

support can

really change

our lives.

Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) UKRCP

Reg Ind counsellor

September 2019 • happiful.com • 39

Tackling phone phobia

As more of our day-to-day communications move online, are we losing the knack of talking

on the telephone? For some, the less they do it, the scarier it becomes. So, if you fear using

the phone, here are some tips to get you chatting again

Writing | Audrey Tang

Artwork | Charlotte Reynell

In a world dominated by

texting, messaging, and

emails, we may be less and

less likely to use our phones

to actually talk to people. In

fact, as we reduce our talking

time, we can begin to lose the

knack – and even our confidence

to converse.

The advent of the internet, with

its forums, chat rooms, and social

media, means that it’s possible

to connect with people without

ever leaving home. This is great

for those who struggle with social

anxiety, as they don’t need to go

out to chat or shop.

Research from charity Anxiety

UK reveals that one in six adults

has experienced some form of

‘neurotic health problem’, and

more than one in 10 are likely to

have a ‘disabling anxiety disorder’

at some stage, with 13% likely to

develop a phobia.

Phone anxiety is part of this

broader social anxiety, and

is characterised by similar

physiological responses – often

triggered by having to speak on

the telephone, or the thought of

doing so.

Symptoms of phone anxiety

Anxiety often comes with a range

of debilitating physiological

symptoms, including a racing heart,

tingling in the hands, feeling faint,

a sense of terror, sweating or chills,

chest pains, difficulty breathing,

and a feeling of a ‘loss of control’.

Unfortunately, as scary as it may

sometimes seem, talking on the

telephone can be an essential part

of work, or the most efficient way

to get things done.

What might cause phone


The original source of the fear may

be something unconscious – a past

experience which you don’t think

about, but a sense of fear remains.

Or perhaps a conversation in the

past ended badly, with a huge life

upheaval? Perhaps you were on

your mobile when you witnessed

a terrible incident? Perhaps you

couldn’t access a phone when you

needed to in a moment of fear?

It may also be part of a general

concern of looking or sounding

‘silly’, or simply ‘messing up’. Then,

the fewer times we use the phone,

the harder it becomes.

What can I do?

If speaking on the phone is integral

to your lifestyle, then you can take

steps to reduce anxiety and help

manage the fear. And there are also

practical techniques you can use to

get through the call itself. As soon

as you feel anxiety growing…

1. Focus on your breathing.

It can help to concentrate on

breathing slowly in and out, while

counting to five.

2. Stamp on the spot or move

about. It can be helpful to channel

your nervous sensations into

something physical.

3. Focus on your senses. Try

mint sweets or gum, or touch

something soft. Have an emotional

first aid pack – I personally love

fluffy things, and have a pompom

as my alternative stress ball.

4. Think about self-care. Pay

attention to what your body needs;

you may find that resting, or going

to the toilet, or eating or drinking

something light, can alleviate the

sense of fear.

5. Tell someone you trust. If you

feel able to talk to others about

your phone phobia, they may be

able to help.

6. Tell yourself ‘these feelings

will pass’. Using positive coping

statements or affirmations can

focus your mind and help you feel

more in control.

Try these practical support


Have an agenda. Write down

what you need to say – even write

a script if you want. But be aware

that using a script can cause more

anxiety if you feel you are not

following it, so bullet points are

probably a more useful tool.

Find a time when you are not

rushed, or are in a private place.

This can help, because if you feel

the dreaded call has gone wrong,

the number of people who may

have noticed is limited. It may

reassure you to know that other

people are not looking at you.

Practise. Speaking is a

‘performance skill’, so you

need to practise it to feel more


Speaking is

a ‘performance

skill’, so you need

to practise it to feel

more comfortable

Once you’ve made that call, be

proud of your achievement. What

may seem ‘silly’, because others do

it easily, is still a big step for you.

Measure your success by your own

benchmarks – and consider how

best to tackle the next call.

Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered

psychologist, mindfulness expert,

TV psychologist, and author of ‘The

Leader’s Guide to Mindfulness’

(FT Publishing, £14.99)



Her adorably unique creations and endearing personality made Kim-Joy a

firm fan-favourite on The Great British Bake Off in 2018, but beyond the

bakes she’s had social anxiety to contend with...

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

When Kim-Joy first

took to our screens

on The Great

British Bake Off

in 2018, she

blew the judges away with her

delightfully cute creations. But

before she was a Bake Off finalist,

Kim-Joy was working on the

front line of mental health care

as a psychological wellbeing

practitioner – offering guided

self-help to people with mild to

moderate anxiety and depression.

Now dedicated to her bakes – and

with her first book, Baking with

Kim-Joy, out soon – she’s a long

way from her role in mental health

care… Or is she?

We caught up with Kim-Joy to

chat about life before Bake Off,

the benefits of baking, and what

helping others can teach us about


Hi Kim-Joy! Let’s go back to

the start. What’s your earliest

baking memory?

I have two, but one is bad!

I remember I used to go to

Chinatown a lot as a kid, because I

grew up in north-west London. We

used to go to the bakery and get

pandan cake, which was really soft

and light – the kind of cake you

really like as a kid. I got home and

because my mum is Malaysian –

and pandan is Malaysian – she had

a little book with a recipe in there

for it. So I made one myself.

It wasn’t as soft and fluffy as the

Chinatown one, but it was still

really good!

Now I’m curious about the

bad baking experience...

It’s not really too bad! My dad

wanted mince pies for Christmas

every year. I think I enjoyed

making them the first time, but

after a few years it’s like, ugh. And

also I don’t like the taste… Well, I

do now but only when there’s not

loads of filling.

Before Bake Off you were

working as a psychological

wellbeing practitioner. What

drew you to that career?

I’ve always been drawn to people,

and wanted to understand how

they work. I grew up really, really

socially anxious – but part of that

makes you want to learn about

people. So I think that must have

started it. And also my family have

a lot of mental health problems, so

I grew up with that – but there was

never a moment where I connected

it all and thought: ‘Oh, my family

has mental health problems and I

have these thoughts, so I want to go

into this.’ >>>

42 • happiful.com • September 2019

I grew up really, really

socially anxious, but part

of that makes you want

to learn about people

*UK mainland only. Entries close 30 September.

Did you enjoy the work?

I did, though there was part of me

that didn’t. But it wasn’t the side

that was helping people. I think

it’s because your caseload is so

big, and you can only have half an

hour with people.

Also, because a lot of people don’t

turn up for their appointments,

the way the service deals with that

is that you will be fully booked,

back-to-back, but the expectation

is that people won’t turn up – so

you can do your notes. But then

you get a couple of days in a row

where everyone turns up. And

you’re like: ‘Ah! That’s cool, but I

can’t do my notes!’ I think it gets

you into a negative mentality,

because you’re hoping that

someone doesn’t turn up.

You mentioned that you

had your own problems

with anxiety when you

were younger. Did you feel


I didn’t, because my older brother

had very severe mental issues, so

I felt like my issues weren’t really

significant in comparison. I was

also quite good academically, so

the school didn’t really bother.

I started not going to school for

quite a while. The headteacher

spoke to me about it, and I just

said: ‘I’m going to the library to

study.’ And she was like: ‘Oh that’s

fine then!’ I had been going to the

library, but not studying. I was just

taking a breather – all the time!

The main thing I did was go to

university and decided I was going

to reinvent myself. But I didn’t

really know how to interact with

people very well, so I was trying to

bond with people by asking them

where the buses went!


Win a signed copy of Baking With Kim-Joy*

To enter, email competitions@happiful.com

telling us which cake was voted the UK's

favourite in 2018:

A. Red velvet

B. Carrot cake

C. Lemon drizzle

That’s a good line!

It is! I think I’m still a bit socially

anxious now, but only with

specific things. I think by helping

other people, you also help

yourself. Part of working with

other people is dealing with my

social anxiety fears, so I just got

used to it.

And then you went on

Bake Off – what a huge


Yeah! I think the reason I applied

for it was partly I wanted to prove

to myself that I could do it.

Do you have any favourite

behind the scenes moments?

I remember one of the weeks I

was crying... [Laughs]. We had a

lady who caught up with us after

every episode to check we were

OK, and looked after us. I said to

her that I thought crying made

me weak, and she taught me that

crying is a strength because you’ve

put yourself in a situation that

makes you vulnerable. Then I was

like: ‘Right I’m going to cry about


44 • happiful.com • September 2019

I think by helping

other people, you

also help yourself

Do you find that baking helps

your mental health?

Definitely. I think that’s probably

what drew me to it. Probably

not as a child, but as I grew up,

because it’s something that you

have to focus on. I started with

getting things right, like with

croissants you have to focus on

folding it the right number of

times, and weighing the butter

and flour. I think it really links to

mindfulness because you have

to be in the moment, and fully

focused on that thing. But as well

as being mindful, at the end you

get a cake.

Photography | Ellis Parrinder

You’re known for bakes

that look impossible to eat

because they’re just so cute.

But when did that come in?

Were you Kim-Joy-ifying your

mince pies?

No, no, back then it was just a

straight-forward mince pie! I think

people assume this is what you

have been doing for a long time,

but actually I was more interested

in baking bread, and getting things

right. I always thought I couldn’t

decorate things until a year before

Bake Off when I started doing

cakes. And then I just fell into this

niche, which I really enjoy!

You have a new book, Baking

with Kim-Joy, out in August.

Do you have a favourite bake

from your recipes?

I love them all, but I think

one of my favourites is the pig

profiteroles. They’re covered

in chocolate, and look like pigs

bathing in mud. I quite like those

because I think they’re quite

simple, even though

it’s choux pastry.

What’s next for you?

There’s something else in the

pipeline but I can’t really say… I’d

love to do more TV and stuff like

that. So we’ll see what happens!

‘Baking with Kim-Joy’

(Quadrille, £18) is out

from 22 August

September 2019 • happiful.com • 45

Life unfiltered



Funny, fresh, and surprisingly frank, get ready to

have your illusion of #MyBestLife shattered

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

I’m not really an

Instagram kind of

person, but even

I’ve been sucked

in by certain hashtags

showing off the

perfect #OOTD (outfit

of the day), sharing

#motivational words of

wisdom, and creating

the kind of #jetset

#lifestyle it’s hard not

to envy. It can be easy

to forget that a single,

flawless shot doesn’t

show us the full picture.

In Living My Best Life,

debut author Claire

Frost gives us a quick

glimpse behind the

glittering veneer into

the myriad of everyday

struggles (big and small)

that we experience –

influencers and all.

What’s it about?

Bell never thought

she’d be approaching 40

single, and struggling

to move on after her

partner of 10 years

dumped her.

Sick of feeling like her

life doesn’t live up to

everyone else’s, she

decides it’s time for a

change, to find out who

she really is, and who

she thinks she should be.

In parallel, it looks

like Millie has the

perfect life. A successful

influencer on the

surface, behind the

scenes she’s a single

mum struggling to make

ends meet, dealing with

trolls, and an ex who

cares more about his

career than their son.

Her life feels more like

#BestLie than #BestLife.

A heart-warming and

humorous novel for the

Insta-weary, Living My

Best Life gives readers

a glimpse behind the

curtain of perfection.

Friendship, community,

and finding your own


Nearly all of us have

experienced the

heartbreak and upset

of a relationship that

has come to an end. For

anyone who has had a

relationship fizzle out,

or felt they haven’t had

the catharsis of knowing

where things went

wrong, Bell’s journey

will ring true.

Claire shows a side

of modern dating

and break-ups not

often seen in fiction:

hours lost to scrolling

through your ex’s

social media feed

looking for answers,

dreading an update that

shows they’ve moved

on already, and an

underlying knowledge

that we really shouldn’t

be using our time and

energy on could-haves

and what-ifs. Bell’s


is as equal

parts refreshing as it is

unsettling to read.

Touching on how the

modern dating scene

has changed for women

in their 30s, Living My

Best Life feels like an

empowering book of

self-discovery. Bell

and Millie are fairly

different, yet each of

them struggles to an

extent with isolation,

finding a support

network, and making

more friends. While

Bell has a best friend

and some family, it isn’t

until post-breakup that

she is able to see how

dissatisfied and out of

touch she has fallen.

Despite her perfect

facade online, Millie is

still a struggling single

mum with no family or

real support network

nearby to lend a helping


As we follow Bell and

Millie on their journeys,

we soon see the

importance of making

new friends throughout

our lives, as well as

the impact helping

others – and focusing

on defining our own

happiness – can have.

It can be hard

to remember:

a single,


shot doesn’t

show the full



An influencer more by

chance than choice,

Millie’s dreams of

having her own fashion

line are far from reality.

While her Instagram

feed portrays a perfect

life – filled with new

outfits, a spotless home,

and perfect shots of her

little boy – in reality,

Millie struggles to make

ends meet.

Claire shows us firsthand

the impact online

trolling can have on

someone’s confidence,

sharing with us Millie’s

building anxiety and

dread around the

comments section

whenever she posts an

update. This snapshot

is a gentle reminder

that there is another

person at the other end

of our screens, who can

be more hurt by harsh

words than we may


While Millie’s struggles

to balance authenticity

while crafting

an inspirational,

aspirational feed are

interesting to read,

it’s the glimpses into

her experiences with

postnatal depression

(PND) that really make

readers stop and think.

Embarrassment and

guilt still plague Millie

at times. Despite all

that she does for her

son, she still can’t help

but fear she isn’t doing


Both reassuring and

heartbreaking, it’s

great to see big issues

being woven naturally

into the overall

narrative, rather than

being the sole focal

point of the novel.

Millie’s experiences

with PND are clearly

a part of her, but they

don’t define her.

Should I read it?

Living My Best Life is

a fun, light-hearted

read. Filled with new

friendships, relatable

struggles, and just

a touch of glam, it’s

refreshing to see a

novel featuring women

of an older age than is

typical for the genre.

If you’re looking for

a book that weaves in

relatable issues without

losing its charm and

style, Living My Best Life

could be the right book

for you.

If you liked this, you’ll love...



Living My Best Life

By Claire Frost

(Simon & Schuster

UK, out 5 September,


Why Mummy

Drinks by Gill


Milk and Honey

by Rupi Kaur

Eat, Pray, Love

by Elizabeth



• Fans of light-hearted


Approaching 39, Mummy

isn’t content with the future

she is facing. Clutching her

glass of wine, she mutters

FML over and over, until

she remembers the gem of

an idea she’s had…

A collection of poetry

and prose about survival,

the experience of love,

loss, violence, abuse, and

femininity. Journey through

the most bitter and sweet

moments in life.

Elizabeth has a house, a

husband, and they’re trying

for a baby – and she doesn’t

want any of it. Emerging

from a bitter divorce, it’s

time to search for the things

she has been missing...

• Readers looking for

feel-good vibes

• Insta enthusiasts

looking for a healthy

dose of reality

How to help a colleague

having a panic attack

Rapid breathing, a racing heart, or upset stomach – alongside the intense fear, panic attacks

can come with some scary physical side-effects. With so much of our lives spent at work, and

it often being a stressful environment, knowing some practical steps you can take to support

a co-worker with panic disorder could make a world of difference

Writing | Kat Nicholls

Panic attacks are, by their

very nature, a scary

experience. And even

when you’re not the

one having the attack,

knowing how to help can be

tough. The situation can become

even trickier to navigate when it

happens in the workplace.

Do you call an ambulance? Do

you suggest meditation? What’s


The first thing to note is that

everyone is unique. Panic attacks

can look different for each person.

As they share many of the same

symptoms as a heart attack, it can

be hard to know which they’re

experiencing. If you’re in any

doubt, please call 999 and get

medical assistance.

If you’re sure it’s a panic attack,

remember that everyone will have

their own ways in which they

prefer to be supported. This is why

communication before an attack,

where possible, is key.


If you know a colleague is prone to

panic attacks, have a conversation

with them about it. Ask them if

there are any signs you can look

out for that may suggest they are

feeling panicky (for example, they

may get up for walks more often).

You can also ask what helps

them when they’re experiencing

an attack. Some people want to

be alone when they have a panic

attack, while others appreciate

company and support. Ask them if

there’s anything you can say or do

to help. If they say no, check to see

if there’s anyone they would like

you to call for help.


Your first instinct may be to tell

them to ‘calm down’ or ‘relax’, but

this can be unhelpful – after all,

if they could simply relax, they

would. Instead, it’s important to

recognise that what’s happening is

a scary experience for them, but

reassure them that you are there if

they need you.

Ask if there’s anything you can

do to help, or if they want to go

outside for some fresh air. You can

suggest a breathing exercise if you

know this is something they’re

open to. If you’re at work, it can be

helpful to let others know what’s

happening, such as HR or their

manager (if they give you consent

to do so). You could also offer to

take their calls while they’re away

from their desk.

Some people find it helpful to

be distracted. This may mean

talking to them about something

completely unrelated to work, or

encouraging them

to play a game

on their phone.

Again, this isn’t

suitable for

everyone, so


what they find

useful is

really key.



• Feelings of impending doom

• Pounding heart

• Sweating

• Dizziness

• Difficulty breathing

• Chest pain

• Choking sensation/

tight throat


Panic attacks typically last between

five and 20 minutes, but can last

more than an hour. Try not to

assume you know when their panic

attack is over; wait for them to tell

you. Once you know it’s finished,

validate their experience, and offer

some space for them to talk about

how they’re feeling. For example:

“That must have been scary for

you, do you feel like talking or do

you want to rest?”

Taking the time to talk can help

both of you to feel calmer. You can

also check in to see if what you did

was helpful for them, or if they

would prefer you do something

different in the future. Finally, be

sure to check on them throughout

the day. If they’re finding it hard to

work, maybe suggest they take the

rest of the day off.

Sometimes anxiety and panic

attacks are a symptom of

workplace stress. If this is the case,

encourage your colleague to speak

to their manager and/or HR for

support, and ask if there’s anything

you can do to make things less


Finally, it’s important to

remember to look after yourself

after helping someone with a panic

attack. Making time for self-care

will help you feel better mentally

and physically, so you can continue

to support others.

Once you know it’s

over, validate their

experience and

offer some space for

them to talk about

how they’re feeling

If you and your colleagues want

to be better prepared for situations

like panic attacks, consider getting

trained in mental health first aid.

Happiful and Simpila Healthy

Solutions provide courses across

the UK to teach you how to listen,

reassure and respond, even in a

crisis. Learn more and find a course

near you at happiful.com/mentalhealth-first-aid-training

September 2019 • happiful.com • 49

Happiful Hero






Reader offer

Get two months free on an annual subscription

using code SEPTHAPPI at shop.happiful.com

Prices and benefits are correct at the time of printing, using code SEPTHAPPI, which expires on 17 October 2019. For full terms and conditions, please visit happiful.com

50 • happiful • December 2018

Images | Downton Abbey: Carnival Film & Television, Journey to Wellness: Instagram @journey_to_wellness_






Neal’s Yard

Remedies Complete


Whether you’re a

massage beginner

looking to pick up some

tips, or simply want

to discover the wellness benefits, this beautiful

guide will set you on your way. Covering the

main massage disciplines, as well as treatment

ideas and recommendations, learn your

Swedish from your shiatsu in this journey into

the power of touch.

(Out 5 September, DK, £18.99)


Lone Wolf, Devon

Arriving in the UK for the first time,

Lone Wolf is an endurance challenge where

runners have one hour to complete a 6.5K

course. Everyone who makes it back within

the hour then has a chance to run it again

at the start of the next hour, and so on until

there is just one runner left. Be in with a

chance of winning the Lone Wolf Trophy, or

take in the stunning natural surroundings and

cheer on the competitors.

(1 September, find out more and book your space

at dynamicadventurescic.co.uk/lone-wolf)



Eyewear that gives back

Pala make sunglasses with

a difference. Profits from their sales go

towards grants that support eyecare projects

across Africa. From building vision centres,

to creating long-term solutions to facilitate

eyecare, Pala’s stunning range of sunnies

look good and do good.

(Browse the collection at



In ancient China, sunglasses were

made from which material?

A) Thin seaweed, B) Smokey quartz,

C) Stained glass

To enter, email your answer to

competitions@happiful.com. UK mainland

only, entries close 15 September.



This month, feel connected with the world around you at the art show

asking the big questions, a podcast that celebrates our failures, and the

app that introduces us to our neighbours in a bid to cut food waste



World Suicide Prevention Day

On this day, organisations around

the world come together to raise

awareness of the ways that we can work to

prevent suicide. With previous years seeing

more than 300 events taking place across 70

countries, it’s time to make some noise, and

reach out to others.

(10 September, join the conversation online by

using the hashtag #WSPD2019)



5 Connect with neighbours and local

businesses to make sure that surplus food

is shared and not thrown away. Whether it’s

food nearing its sell-by-date, or spare homegrown

vegetables, simply add a photo to the

app, along with a description and where the

item is available to pick-up, and be part of

the move to cut food waste.

(Download from the App Store and Google

Play, find out more at olioex.com)


Downton Abbey

Calling all Downtonians, the moment

you’ve been waiting for has arrived as

the much-loved story hits the big screen

for the first time in Downton Abbey, the

movie. Picking up a year on from the TV

series’ finale, immerse yourself in the

drama as the Crawley family receive a

very royal visit.

(In cinemas 13 September)


The Handmade Festival





‘How to Fail’ podcast with Elizabeth Day

With guests including Nigel Slater, Jamie

Laing, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, each week

Elizabeth Day speaks to people about their

failures, and the lessons that they learned

from going through them. (Find out more at

elizabethdayonline.co.uk, and listen to the podcast

on iTunes and Spotify)


Arts by the Sea

Travel to the south coast for an

intriguing celebration of the arts,

at venues across Bournemouth. This year

the theme for the festival is ‘Mind Matter’,

which will see artists exploring the biggest

mental health questions that we’re all

facing today.

(27–29 September. For more information on the

festival, head to artsbythesea.co.uk)


Journey to Wellness

For regular self-care

reminders and daily pickme-ups,


to Wellness offers

sweet and simple


exploring everything

from anxiety and

depression, to

practising selfcompassion.

(Follow @journey_to_


on Instagram)

Head to Hampton Court and get hands-on at the festival that offers three days of creativity, with a

packed schedule of more than 150 workshops and 300 exhibitors. From watercolour to chalk paint,

and crochet to cake decorating, there’s something for everyone.

(13–15 September, tickets start at £16, find out more at thehandmadefestival.com)


I was trans before social

media took hold. I was

schizophrenic before

people talked openly

Finding safe

spaces online

Contending with mental

health and neurodiversity,

Ashley and wife Morgana

faced even more difficulties

than most when it came to

embracing – and showing the

world – who they truly are

Writing | Ashley Ford-McAllister


married Morgana on Halloween

in 2015. We didn’t have a lot of

money, so our reception was a

buffet at a friend’s house, and

the music a YouTube playlist.

In a nice touch of synchronicity, the

neighbours were having an early Bonfire

Night; the spectacular fireworks at the

end of their display coincided with

everyone heading outside for taxis

home. Morgana wore a full-length,

crushed velvet dress in crimson. My

waistcoat and tie matched perfectly. Our

first dance was The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale

of New York’. There was a cake smash,

photos, and a lot of laughter. Just a

normal, slightly alternative wedding.

Except that Morgana and I are both

trans. I’ve medically and surgically

transitioned, finishing things to the >>>

Ashley (right) and wife

Morgana (left)

Social media makes it easier for

the defiantly different to find each

other; a refuelling stop before we

go out into the world again

extent I wanted to take

them in 2010, having

changed my name in 2005.

I took the full version of

a nickname I’d chosen in

1996, when I was 10 – the

year I’d cut my hair short.

There had never been

a time, in the five years

my parents had allowed

me to choose my own

clothes, that I’d gone for

dresses, despite growing

up with several friends

who were happy being

girls, and saw no reason

why tree-climbing and

skateboarding couldn’t be

done in pretty, feminine

clothes. I knew women

who were practical and

competent. But I’d always

headed for jeans and

T-shirts. I built dens, drove

go-karts, climbed trees,

and created elaborate

stories that I acted out with

my toy cars and Lego.

Morgana had just started

to bring her feminine self

into the world when we

met in 2013, having gone

through the route of not

really identifying with

gender or sexuality at

all, thinking she must be

a gay man, because she

didn’t feel anything for

the girls her male friends

were pursuing, and then

coming across the idea of

asexuality, and feeling that

made a lot more sense

than anything else.

She is still asexual, as

am I, but her hair has

grown out into a long,

thick waterfall of dark

curls, while the summer

dresses that contrasted so

strikingly with that short

hair have been replaced

with pastel jeans, vintageinspired

blouses, and

humorous T-shirts.

Morgana and I both

live with mental health

and neurodiversity, and

this has caused a lot of

difficulty in our path to

introducing the world to


My initial referral to

Charing Cross Gender

Identity Clinic, London,

was delayed for almost a

year and a half, because

I have schizophrenia.

This, it was believed,

meant that a ‘lack of a

permanent sense of self’

made it impossible for me

to be trans, even though

I’d been permanently

identifying as ‘not a girl’

for at least a decade prior

to making it in front of a

gender identity specialist.

Despite the unwavering

insistence of just about

every part of the medical

community that people

with schizophrenia

don’t have a fixed sense

of self, my identity as a

working class bloke who

prefers to form intimate

relationships with women,

has more of an affinity

with dogs than cats, enjoys

both the reading and the

writing of books, and

starts to get restless if he’s

kept indoors for too long,

has never shifted.

Morgana has Asperger’s,

and, since hers came

without the ‘brilliant at

IT’ upgrade, but did have

the free add-on of social

anxiety, she has struggled

to find paid employment.

Those who decide

whether trans people

are allowed to have

hormones and surgery

(assuming they want

either, which they may

or may not) don’t like it if

you’re not working.

For Morgana, the anxiety

of being criticised for

‘not working’ means that,

for the moment, she has

chosen to simply ‘get on

with being a woman’, and

let go of the investment in

doing things ‘officially’.

Social media makes

it easy for the defiantly

different to find each

other; a refuelling stop

before we go out into the

world again.

I’ve spent years living

and working stealthily,

going in to maledominated


biting my tongue as I sat

through ‘equality and

diversity training’ led by

someone who was clueless

about a transgender

person working at

the company. I’ve had

managers try to force

54 • happiful.com • September 2019

Social media has allowed Morgana

to find other autistic women, many

of whom happen to be trans

me into sexual situations

with female colleagues, to

‘prove you’re not a f****t’.

I’ve had to come up with

an explanation as to why

a ‘bit of banter’ made me

so uncomfortable, that

doesn’t out me.

After days like that,

knowing my social media

feed will include people

who’ll make me laugh,

inspire raging hair and

fashion lust, and provide

enjoyable, intellectually

engaging discourse, is

essential to my wellbeing.

For Morgana, social

media has allowed her to

find other autistic, nerdy

women, many of whom

happen to be trans. She

gets the respite of being

in a society where she’s

not out of step, or running

to catch up, and where

people engage with her

naturally, and respect her

without conditions.

Even in the communities

we’ve found, the opinions

of the rest of the world

still get in, as people try

to process hate-filled

The ‘safe spaces’

that the media

mocks are where

people like us

go to rearm and

fortify, not where

we go to fall apart

headlines, inaccurate

representation, and

personal encounters.

What it is, is our space –

filled with and dominated

by people who understand

and accept us, even if they

don’t like us. And that

makes it safe. It gives us

the same ‘world-adjacent’

respite as people who

experience the privilege

of being automatically

accepted by society.

I was trans before social

media took hold. I was

schizophrenic before

people talked openly.

Morgana grew up as an

autistic person without the

benefit of a social media

scene that allowed her to

meet others like her. She

was trans in the physical

reality first.

We would get by without

it, but social media makes

it a lot easier to manage

our mental health and

neurodivergence. The

‘safe spaces’ the media

mocks are where people

like us go to rearm and

fortify, not where we go to

fall apart.

Being trans, being

neurodivergent, having

mental health issues, will

never be easy, but the

same social media that

gives those who object to

our existence an outlet,

also provides us all with

an enjoyable, accessible

way to affirm our

personhood, and our right

to enjoy the world, as well

as embracing our own

definition of success.


Ashley and Morgana’s

story shows the

importance of being

true to who you know

yourself to be, especially

when others do not

understand, or even

seek to undermine you.

Managing more than

one aspect of diversity,

it is heartening to hear

how social media has

allowed them to build

the sense of community

we all need in our lives.

Their resilience is a

moving testament to

what is possible if we

stay true to our own

values, and

way of being

in the world.

Fe Robinson | MUKCP (reg)

Psychotherapist and couples counsellor

September 2019 • happiful.com • 55

Happiful Hero

Photography | Joel Mott

Even the darkest night will

end and the sun will rise

56 • happiful • December 2018 – VICTOR HUGO, LES MISÉRABLES

Simone is the

co-host of The

Sister Space podcast.

Listen to new episodes

on Spotify and



Simone Powderly


Model, content creator, mental health advocate, and girl with big hair,

and a bigger heart, Simone Powderly is making a real difference in the

lives of her followers. But when she’s not working towards her goals,

what does Simone do to relax? Here, she breaks down some of her

favourites, and the things that inspire her day-to-day

Book cover | amazon.co.uk



How to take care of my

plants… Don’t laugh! I

was determined to make

sure I take care of them,

they’re my babies and I

love being around greenery

– living in a city is hard, so I’ve

created my safe space! Yes… I

do give them special names and

talk to them!



I never know

what I want to

eat... But homely

food is always the

way to my heart! Good ol’ Irish

stew, or a Caribbean dish, is




Remember who you are

– Mufasa, The Lion King. My

nickname is Simba, because of

my hair!


I’m just turning 30, and really

stepping into my

power, and just

pushing forward

with my passions.

My home, work, and social life

balance is really up in the air,

and I don’t feel grounded. I need

some organisation, ASAP!


Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

My therapist recommended I should read

more fiction, as my shelf is full of self-help

books. But wow, this book is hard-hitting and

so beautifully written!


New York for the drive and

ambition – I love the energy

there. Home is where the

heart is, and

for me that’s

being near

greenery or

water, so I will

go to any place

that gets me

near those two!


Finding my voice and speaking

out on my childhood sexual

trauma, which has led me to be

able to raise awareness, and given

me a greater purpose.


I truly believe in following pages

that educate, make you laugh,

inspire, and empower you. So here

are my top five: @gracefvictory,

@willsmith, @alex_elle,

@tanyacompas, @mothecomedian


I’m a lover of music, so this is hard!

But my go-to song at the moment is

DaniLeigh’s ‘Easy’. The song reflects

my motto right now: ‘Let’s take it easy.’




Writing | Lucy Donoughue



First aired in 2006, it was at its

The go-to guy for teaching us to love the skin we’re in, Gok Wan has put being kind to yourself

and others firmly in fashion. With the show that launched him into the nation’s homes, How

to Look Good Naked, back later this year, and a UK tour this autumn, we chat to Gok about

the topics he holds most passionately in his heart: body acceptance, appreciating life, and

waking up to the mistreatment of LGBT+ communities across the globe

Ifirst really considered the

concept of ‘body confidence’

after watching Gok Wan’s

How to Look Good Naked many

years ago. With his now famous

warmth and familiarity, Gok spent

each episode working closely with

the people who appeared on the

Channel 4 show to understand

their self-esteem struggles, and

issues with their own reflections.

He then challenged this by

encouraging each person to view

themselves positively, and by

celebrating the features they were

proud of.

How to Look Good Naked was

feel-good TV with strong messages

of body acceptance and self-love

at its core, prompting discussions

about self-image and body

dissatisfaction in living rooms up

and down the country.

height as Facebook was in its

infancy, Instagram was years

away from existing, and the words

‘selfie’ and ‘influencer’ were not

yet commonplace in the public


Now, Gok harnesses these social

media platforms to informally

continue the conversations

around body confidence he

started in the early noughties, and

reaches more people than ever

before on a daily basis.

Scrolling through Gok’s feed, one

post in particular catches my eye.

It reads: ‘Body confidence is not

about waking up and loving every

part of you. It’s about waking up

and not hating every part of you.’

“We all have those moments, and

for some of us, we have weeks,

months or years where we feel

so bad about our bodies,” Gok

explains when I mention this

quote. “Then we concentrate so

much on goals like, ‘I am going to

be 100% confident with my hair,

my skin, my nails, my body, my

weight,’ and sometimes that can be

so unachievable.

“You’re already setting yourself up

to fail, and what I want to say with

that statement is just do baby steps.

Give yourself a break, make your

goals realistic, and then they won’t

feel like such a daunting task.

“Work at just trying to appreciate,

trying to accept, and have parts of

your body you can welcome to the

world every single day – instead

of having to try to love every part

of it, which could be massively


Now, 13 years after How to Look

Good Naked first aired, Gok is >>>

September 2019 • happiful.com • 59

Follow Gok Wan on Instagram @therealgokwan, and visit gokfashion.com

for more about the One Size Fits All tour.

To support LGBT+ communities across the world, visit allout.org, a global

movement fighting for a world where no one has to make sacrifices because

of who they are or who they love.

every bit as passionate about

helping people to feel better about

themselves. However, Gok believes

that there are some aspects of

the continuing social media

phenomenon that exacerbate

issues around low self-esteem –

and he’s particularly concerned

about younger people who have

never known a life without these


“We’re in a dangerous position at

the moment; the majority of the

images that we see are no longer

just unrealistic, they’re computer

generated, and people are aspiring

to look that way. I don’t think the

world knows what is beautiful any


“We’re aspiring to be something

that is completely artificial – it’s

not real. And I think that’s really

confusing to a lot of young people.

“As a 45-year-old man who works

in an industry that is governed

by how we look, I can talk about

this quite freely and understand

the right and wrongs of that,”

Gok explains. “However, if I’m a

13-year-old girl or boy, then I have

no background knowledge, no

research, and no references on

this. I’m just thinking: ‘Why don’t

I look that way?’ And I think that

this can cause quite severe mental


Gok has real gravitas when

he shares his opinion on these

subjects, not only because of

his professional background,

but also because of his personal

experience with eating disorders,

stemming from his young adult

years. And now, how does Gok

view himself today?

60 • happiful.com • September 2019

Photography (teal background) | Chris WR Cox Photography, (bottom right) | Sue Lacey Photography

He takes a moment before

responding. “It’s a really difficult

question to answer, because I

am nowhere near 100% happy

with my body – no way – but I

have other things in my life that

I feel so grateful for, and that I

feel so proud of. My work, my

relationships, and all of that gives

me confidence, and actually has

taken over how I felt about my

body all those years ago.”

This autumn, he’ll be taking

these skills on the road with

his One Size Fits All Tour (after

I think that we

need to fight

for our brothers

and sisters, so

all voices can

be heard

filming the hotly-anticipated

returning series of How to Look

Good Naked), and Gok is keen to

point out that he is rewarded by

continuing to spread the body

confidence message up close and

in person: “It’s not a selfless act

doing One Size Fits All, I get a

huge amount out of it.

“Even just talking about how I felt

in the past about my body, how I

feel about it now, the dangers of

negative body image, and what

that can do to you – I get a huge

amount of confidence from that

because I get to help people, to

share their stories, and it confirms

my beliefs and politics when it

comes to the body confidence


Gok is driven to work on

projects where he can make a

difference. I’m reminded of the

Gay Times Global Pride campaign

he supported last year, helping

to shed light on the appalling

mistreatment of the LGBT+

community in countries across the

world. Gok tells me sadly, this isn’t

an issue that is going away.

He’s just returned from a press

trip in Warsaw, Poland, where

civil rights activist Elzbieta

Podleśna, was arrested, and

her laptop, phone, and private

communications were seized. Her

‘crime’ was sharing an image of

the Virgin Mary with a rainbow

halo, to protest against the

Church’s exclusion of the LGBT+

community from religion. “She’s

now had her entire work and

her entire life, personally and

professionally, investigated over

this one image,” Gok says, with

deep frustration in his voice.

And this isn’t an isolated

incident. “We’re in such terrible

shape at the moment. Look at the

Sultan of Brunei and the death

penalty for LGBT+ people,” he

continues. “Now, they’re not going

to enforce that as a law, but we

kind of forget that actually you can

still be arrested or beaten in that

country for your sexuality.

“Just the fact that people are not

being killed, it makes it kind of

a positive, or a step in the right

direction. Tha’s a problem that

we’ve got with LGBT+ treatment

– almost a reverse of the body

confidence issue. We can’t just

focus on the stuff that’s ‘kind of

alright’, like the fact that it’s OK to

get married in this country.

“We’ve got to focus on the fact

that our brothers and our sisters

in the community, some of them

are dying, some of them are being

beaten or living in persecution

in their own homes – unless

they decide that they want to

take asylum in a country where

they can live freely as an LGBT+

person,” Gok says emphatically.

“But then, not everybody wants to

leave their country, their friends

and their families.

“For those of us who are slightly

more privileged, I think that we

need to fight for our brothers and

sisters, so that all voices can be


We’re with you all the way, Gok.

September 2019 • happiful.com • 61



Start your week the right way with our homemade granola

Writing | Ellen Hoggard

Granola is one of my

favourite breakfasts.

The first time I made

a batch at home, I

couldn’t believe how simple it

was, and it was so delicious I

don’t think I’ll ever go back to

shop-bought. Whether you go

for a classic milk and granola

combo, as a yoghurt topping,

or simply a snack, the flavour

and texture is just so good. A

bit of sugar, a dash of spice, and

the fruits that fill your fancy,

this recipe is the basis for a

breakfast you can make your


As summer rolls into

autumn, we often fall back

into a routine. School starts,

everyone is back at work, and

new projects are set to begin.

So, you need to be nourished

ahead of your day. As you

prepare for the week, simply

set an hour aside to bake this

delicious granola, and you’ll

be set for at least the next few

days… as long as you don’t eat

it all at once.

Our nutrition expert

Michelle Boehm gives us

some insight: “This is a

well-balanced breakfast

with plenty of carbohydrates

(oats), fats (coconut oil), and

protein (nuts). It’s vegan, and

can be gluten-free if you opt for

gluten-free oats. The carbs are

slow-releasing, keeping you

fuller for longer, reducing the

urge to snack and overeat at


“Adding protein and

cinnamon to your meal

supports blood sugar

balancing. The slow release

of sugars in the food helps to

boost energy levels, control

mood swings, and reduce

cravings. If you would like

to reduce the sugar content

further, omit the syrup and

dried fruit, although this

may make your granola

slightly less sticky.

“The fats in coconut

oil are medium chain

triglycerides (MCTs) which

are said to provide your

brain with quick energy,

and raise the good HDL

cholesterol in your

blood. This breakfast is

also rich in fibre, with

almonds containing

more fibre than any

other nut. Fibre binds

to water and waste in

the colon to pass out

of the body easily, regulating

bowel movements.”

You will need...

4 cups rolled oats

1 cup pecans

1 cup almonds

2 tbsp agave or maple syrup

½ cup coconut oil

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp dried cranberries

1 tbsp dried apricots, chopped

½ cup coconut flakes

Optional: Chocolate chips

Michelle Boehm is a nutritional

therapist and health coach. Find out

more at livebetterhealth.co.uk



Preheat the oven to 180C/350C, gas

mark 4, and line a large rimmed

baking tray with parchment paper.

Put aside.

Combine the oats, salt, cinnamon,

pecans and almonds. In a small

bowl, melt the coconut oil and add

the agave syrup. Slowly, combine

the wet ingredients with the oats

until fully coated.

Add to the baking tray, distributing

evenly and pressing down so the

mixture sticks together.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring

halfway. For larger clusters, press

the stirred granola down with your

spatula before returning to the

oven. When golden brown, remove

and leave to cool.

When the granola has completely

cooled, break the granola into

pieces with your hands. Add the

dried fruit, coconut and, if using,

chocolate chips. Gently mix with

your hands, ensuring you don’t

break the clusters.

Store in an airtight container at

room temperature (this will keep

your granola fresh for up to two

weeks). Alternatively, you can freeze

your granola for up to three months

– simply remove it from the freezer

15 minutes before serving.

Serve as a yoghurt topping, or with a

milk of choice. Delicious.

Find a nutritionist near you at


September 2019 • happiful.com • 63



As the summer hits its stride, it’s near impossible to avoid all the attention-grabbing

headlines about the latest fad diet, ‘bikini body workout’, or obesity epidemics,

designed to make us feel guilty at mealtimes. But diet culture doesn’t need to make

its claim on you! Here, we put the BS on blast

Writing | Pixie Turner

Diet culture is like that

song by The Police:

every breath you take,

every move you make,

it’s watching you. And

judging you.

All the messages that are

ingrained in us by society, that

health, beauty, happiness, and

success have an aesthetic, and a

very particular aesthetic at that,

are encompassed by diet culture. If

you don’t fit this image, then you’re

wrong and need to change. Diet

culture conveniently sells us all the

tools we allegedly need to mould

ourselves to the ideal image, and

when they don’t work, it shames us

for not trying hard enough.

These messages have incredible

power over us, and seep into

the way we think and talk about

ourselves, our family, our friends,

and strangers.

Diet culture is built on lies.

Health doesn’t have one look,

beauty is multi-faceted, success

comes in many forms, and

happiness doesn’t often come

from being constantly told you’re

not good enough.


The toxicity narrative can come

in a number of forms. With

sugar in particular, we’re told

that it’s toxic and addictive, and

that’s why we’re all fat: we can’t

stop eating it. This is absolute

nonsense. Firstly, weight isn’t

a behaviour, and we should

stop acting like it’s something

we have complete control over.

Secondly, using fear tactics to

scare people out of eating certain

foods is unhelpful. It’s a very

effective short-term motivator,

but it also often leads to bingeing

behaviours, secret eating, guilt,

and is not conducive to good

mental health. Using weight

gain as a fear tactic implies that

Here are just some of the diet

culture headlines I’ve spotted in

recent years, that I wish people

would stop using:

all weight gain is bad (it’s not),

and shows just how much value

society places on a thin body.

Much of the ‘toxicity’ narrative

very much feeds in to the ‘thin

bodies are good bodies’, ‘fat bodies

are bad bodies’ narrative, as we

take on the concept of ‘you are

what you eat’. If you eat ‘toxic’

foods (sugar, processed food,

chemicals, gluten, whatever is

negatively trending) then this

must manifest in the body in the

form of weight gain, because

toxic foods make toxic bodies. It’s

an incredibly harmful narrative

that attaches moral value to food,

which is then transferred to our

bodies. All bodies are good bodies.

64 • happiful.com • September 2019

Instead of encouraging rapid

weight loss, let’s instead focus

on health-promoting behaviours

and self-acceptance


All bodies

are good


Or subsitute this for any body

positivity narrative. Humans

come in a variety of shapes and

sizes, and this should absolutely

be reflected in the images we see

around us. The very people who

are so outraged at the fat Nike

mannequin tend to be the same

people who make fun of fat folks

in the gym. So you want fat people

to get smaller and engage in health

behaviours, but you also don’t

want them to go to the gym? These

people don’t actually care about

fat people’s health; they simply

want fat people to cease to exist,

because they don’t find fatness

aesthetically pleasing. We should

absolutely be encouraging anyone

who wants and is able to move their

body in ways they enjoy, and that

includes giving everyone access to

comfortable and practical workout

clothes that fit. >>>






Any kind of ‘fat-burning’ foods, or

foods that ‘melt the pounds away’,

don’t exist. There is no such thing

as ‘fat-burning’ foods, and there is

no magical food that will lead to

instant weight loss. Food doesn’t

work like that. The language of

‘melting’ fat is incredibly strange,

and implies that the fat stores

inside our body function the same

way as a slab of butter: work it

and warm it up, and it converts

from a solid to liquid state, which

then… leaves your body? As sweat?

No. Instead of encouraging rapid

weight loss, let’s instead focus on

health-promoting behaviours and


This statement has spread like

wildfire through the media

and social media. I can see

why; it’s a great soundbite. But

it’s also totally wrong. When

you trace it back to its origin

(which is not easy as one

article seems to get it from

another article, which copied

it from another article…) it

wasn’t a finding in a scientific,

peer-reviewed paper. It was

from an opinion piece. This

statement, which is shared

as fact, is simply one person’s

opinion. They didn’t even

back it up with any evidence.

This statement is simply

untrue, and the average life

expectancy is still going up

as medical diagnoses happen

earlier, treatments get better,

and communicable diseases

are hugely reduced. Who

knows, we might even bring it

up to 100 years old one day.

66 • happiful.com • September 2019




Using the word ‘epidemic’ for a

non-contagious phenomenon is

misleading. It creates panic and

implies that you can ‘catch’ fatness

from someone. Actually, we have

research suggesting that fat folks

tend to eat less around thin folks,

usually due to concerns about

being judged if they eat more

than the thin person. Fat people

already face so much hate and

discrimination, and implying that

you shouldn’t have fat friends in

case you become fat too, is cruel.

All humans need social interaction

to thrive, not just the thin ones.

Diet culture is insidious, yes, but

that doesn’t mean we’re paralysed

by it. Having an understanding of

these societal structures allows

us to be more compassionate

to ourselves and to others. We

know from research that shaming

others, or ourselves, into losing

weight doesn’t work. If we can

learn and practise self-acceptance,

we are actually far more likely

to treat our bodies well, and see

them as wonderful machines that

deserve to be taken care of. In the

end, I’m willing to bet you know

your body better than any headline

or Instagram ad ever could. Trust

that. And if that feels too hard right

now, reach out for help, because I

promise, you deserve it.

1. Anything that suggests there is one way of eating for everybody.

It does not exist.

2. Claims that food is toxic. It’s not, as it wouldn’t be edible

otherwise. Also, any chemist will tell you that the dose makes

the poison. In other words, anything is toxic in the right

quantity, even water.

3. ‘Guilt-free’ food. All food is guilt-free. You need to eat to survive,

just like you need to drink water, breathe, and go to the toilet.

None of those should involve guilt.

4. Anything that mentions the word ‘detoxing’. The more

someone uses that term to talk about food, the less likely they

are to actually know anything about human physiology and

biochemistry. Lucky for you, I have a biochemistry degree, and I

can happily say that you have a liver and kidneys that work 24/7.

No one food can replace that.

5. ‘This food cures this disease!’ Food is not medicine. Food does

not cure disease. A healthy, balanced diet is important for

health, yes, but there is no such thing as a specific food that can

cure a certain disease. (If you’re being really pedantic, you could

say that removing a food that you’re allergic to is a ‘cure’, but I

don’t think that’s quite the same thing!)

Pixie Turner (ANutr, MSc) is a nutritionist, science

communicator, and author. Her books ‘The Wellness

Rebel’ and ‘Become a Diet Rebel and Make Friends

with Food’ are available now. Follow Pixie on

Instagram and Twitter @pixienutrition



Regret over missed opportunities, terrified to ask for a pay rise, or dread in the pit of your

stomach at the thought of an upcoming presentation? We’ve all been there, but a lack of

confidence doesn’t need to hold you back any longer…

Writing | Fiona Thomas

Stand up straight. Talk

loudly. Sell yourself.

Words that are drilled

into us before we attend

a job interview. But once

hired, how do we keep up the

momentum? There are so many

aspects of work that make us feel

inadequate, and research suggests

that we may be in the midst of a

confidence crisis.

Unsurprisingly, public speaking

ranks as one of the biggest pain

points, with 52% of workers

claiming they lack the confidence

to present in front of large groups.

Added to that, 35% of employees

are too shy to ask for a pay rise,

while 32% are afraid of putting

ideas forward.

We look at the most confident

people in the office and think that

they’re lucky. They were born that

way, right? Well, kind of. It’s true

that many of our personality traits

– from shyness to creativity – are

rooted in our genetic makeup.

But just because some people are

naturally confident doesn’t mean

that the rest of us are sentenced

to life in the shadows. Confidence

can be genetic, but it can also

be learned, and that’s where

neuroscience comes in.

Our brains are made up of

millions of nerve cells, which

are responsible for our thoughts,

mood, emotions, and intelligence.

The British Neuroscience

Association says that our brain

affects our physical movement,

breathing, heart rate, and sleep. It

makes us who we are.

I spoke to Kirsty Hulse,

founder of Roar Training,

who has a passion for social

neuroendocrinology (a field of

study in neuroscience, focused

on how hormones impact social

behaviours) to find out how we can

get strategic with our own selfconfidence.

I took part in one of her practical

workshops recently and, although

I was eager to learn, I thought I

would struggle to match Kirsty’s

confidence. She’s so at-ease on

stage that on this particular day,

she incorporates burping into

her talk, and still comes off as

the ultimate professional. With a

background in stand-up comedy,

I felt like she had an unfair

advantage in the world of work,

but I was wrong. What Kirsty

graciously admitted to us all that

day, is that she, too, suffers from

major confidence dips at work.

The secret for Kirsty is knowing

that these feelings are intrinsically

linked to our brain. It’s all just

chemistry. Here are her tips:

Scenario one: Someone else is

taking credit for your work

Having the confidence to stand

up and get recognition for your

work can be hard. It can feel like

bragging, and most of us hate to

do that.

Kirsty explains that it all lies

in our brain’s perception of the

situation. >>>

What is power posing?

Made famous by Amy Cuddy in her 2012 Ted talk, it

is the act of commanding a powerful stance (think

Wonder Woman) to alter your brain chemistry. Her

latest study, published in 2018, demonstrates a link

between expansive postures and feelings of power.

“Actions and how we construe

situations can have an impact

on our hormonal profile. So

perceiving a situation as difficult

and threat-inducing will ultimately

make it difficult and threatinducing.”

Confronting someone about

taking credit for your work can

feel like a threat because you

anticipate a negative response.

This can lead to increased cortisol

levels, which can trigger the ‘fight

or flight’ response – that comes

with unhelpful physical symptoms

such as sweating, increased heart

rate, and muscle tension. The

problem here is that we lose our

ability to think, and are overcome

by physical reactions.

The good news is that there

are practical ways to dampen

this limbic response, and they’re

pretty simple. Laughter is a proven

way to lower cortisol levels, as

is a talk with a trusted friend. So

before you head into a difficult

conversation, phone your funniest

pal for some reassurance. You

can also encourage an optimal

hormone balance with 30 minutes

of moderate exercise and power


We hardwire negative

beliefs, and remember

threats more than


Scenario two: You want a pay rise

Money is a source of anxiety

for many of us, and asking for

more of it can be terrifying. We

instinctively assume that the

answer will be no, because we

don’t deserve it. Kirsty says that

this train of thought is totally

normal, and that being aware of

that fact can be helpful.

“We hardwire negative beliefs,

and remember threats more than

rewards. So acknowledge that

you’re more likely to remember

the times you’ve failed than the

times you’ve succeeded. This is a

good reminder to yourself before

going into a meeting. It’s natural

to feel unqualified, because we’re

always thinking about the times

we fell short, instead of the times

we did well. Normalising this

sense of feeling unworthy can help

you really focus on all the great

attributes you bring to the table.”

Try putting yourself in someone

else’s shoes and draw on their

natural confidence. Choose a role

model who you believe would

handle the situation effectively

(think Beyoncé or Batman) and

channel their energy. Ask yourself:

‘How would they walk into a room?

How would they sell themselves

effectively in order to get this pay

rise?’ This can quickly get you

into the headspace of feeling in

control, instead of under threat.

70 • happiful.com • September 2019

Laughter is a proven way to lower cortisol levels, as is a talk

with a trusted friend. So before you head into a difficult

conversation, phone your funniest pal for reassurance

The science bit:

We need the prefrontal cortex

(PFC) of the brain for high-level

thinking, creativity, and decisionmaking.

The limbic system deals

with emotions, memories, learning,

and stimulation. The problem is

that the PFC and limbic system

don’t work well at the same time. So,

when nerves kick in and the limbic

system fires up, it’s hard to think

clearly (using the PFC) which is why

people forget their words, stutter, or

get choked up. Additionally, studies

show that the optimal hormonal

profile for confidence is increased

testosterone, and low cortisol levels.

Make it your mission to find that

sweet spot where nerves give you

energy, without taking over. And

if you feel like they are about to

take over, do something to lower

your cortisol levels, like talking to

a friend, laughing, taking a walk,

or reframe the situation as an

opportunity for reward.

Scenario three: You’re doing a

big presentation

One of the most effective ways to

get more confident doing public

speaking is practice. When we

do the same thing repeatedly, we

hardwire new beliefs, and the

more you partake in it, the more

you’ll realise your own capabilities.

Imagine your belief system as a

literal footpath on the grass. The

first time you walk it you’ll have

to find your own way, but after

making the same journey a few

times, the path becomes worn in,

more visible, and easy to follow.

“Nerves just show that you’re

doing something that you care

about,” says Kirsty. “Nerves are

a marker of wanting to do well.

They’ve been societally presented

as a weakness, but nerves are your

body saying: ‘I’m going to do all of

the appropriate things to help you

nail this.’”

If you’re keen to find out more about

how to boost your confidence, to

help you thrive at work, Kirsty

cites ‘Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to

Transforming Performance at Work’

by David Rock (Collins, £10.99) as

the basis for much of her training

and advice.

Fiona is a freelance writer and

author, whose book, ‘Depression

in a Digital Age’, is out now. Visit

fionalikestoblog.com for more.

September 2019 • happiful.com • 71

Soak it up

A good bath might be seen as a little luxury now and then, but beyond some essential

self-care, it actually has scientifically proven benefits for your mental health

Writing | Fiona Thomas

Throughout history,

bathing has always

been about more

than just personal

hygiene. Cleanliness

was seen as a symbol of power

and beauty in ancient times,

and baths were taken publicly

as a way to socialise and build


Nowadays of course, a hot

bubble bath is associated with

solitude and self-care, a little

luxury that many of us look

forward to after a stressful day, or

a tough workout. But studies show

that the benefits of bathing are

more than just skin deep.

In a German study, participants

with depression reported a boost

in mood after soaking in a 40C

bath for 30 minutes. In fact, in this

experiment, regular baths proved

to be more effective in aiding

depression than aerobic exercise.

A Japanese study also looked

into the mental health benefits of

bathing, this time, in comparison

to showering. They found that

bathing resulted in less stress,

tension-anxiety, anger-hostility,

and depression, in the people who

took part.

It’s believed that hot baths

are particularly transformative

because they warm us up.

Increased body temperature

at night helps synchronise our

natural circadian rhythms, leading

to better sleep patterns, along

with improved quality of sleep and

overall wellbeing.

In an article published on

PsychologyToday.com, Peter

Bongiorno, ND, LAc explains that

bathing can even lead to chemical

changes in the brain.

He writes: “Decreases in stress

hormones (like cortisol) have

been reported with water bathing

(Toda et al., 2006). It has also been

shown that water bathing may

also help the balance of the feel

good neurotransmitter, serotonin

(Marzsziti et al., 2007).”

But before you get lathered up,

here are a few tips on how to create

a soothing experience that will

help you rebalance in the comfort

of your own home.



Warm baths help ease physical

tension, relax anxious muscles,

and give you that orgasmic, looseygoosey

feeling when you’re tightly

wound. They can even aid with

digestion problems, and lower

blood sugar levels.

The perfect bath for a healthy

adult should be between 40–45C,

ideally in a room that is 25C. This

magical combination will increase

body temperature in a comfortable

way, due to the reduced cold stress

from the exterior environment.


Aromatherapist and Therapy

Directory member Megan Viney

explains that although lavender is a

firm favourite with those looking to

relax, it’s not the only choice.

“Vetiver is a brilliant option for

settling the mind, and frankincense

is renowned for helping let go of

worries,” Megan notes.

For a good night’s sleep try ylang

ylang, and to invigorate, try a citrus

oil such as petitgrain or bergamot.

It’s important to

always use a carrier oil to

dilute your chosen essential

oil, otherwise they may cause

skin irritation. A good rule of

thumb when making a 2%

dilution is to add 12 drops

per 30ml of oil.

Why not take it a step further

and add fresh rose petals to

your bathwater? This creates

a soothing rosewater scent

that is suitable for even

sensitive skins.


Many of us are exposed to

blue light all day in the form

of computers and mobile devices,

leaving us mentally drained and prone

to headaches. If your bathroom has

lots of natural light, then consider a

daytime bath. Not only does it feel

like the ultimate extravagance, but

natural light can lead to an improved

sense of wellbeing, and better sleep.

In the evening, consider leaving the

lights off and bathing by candlelight,

as exposure to artificial light at night

suppresses melatonin, interfering with

sleep timing and quality.


It can be tempting to prop up your iPad

and catch up on your favourite Netflix

shows while you’re in the tub, but we

recommend leaving technology out of

the equation. Remember that draining

blue light? Instead, enjoy the silence, or

envelop yourself in a natural soundtrack

like rainforest sounds or lapping

waves. Studies show that nature sounds

can decrease the body’s sympathetic

response (that anxiety jolt that comes

from fight-or-flight) and can increase

feelings of relaxation.

‘The perfect bath for a healthy

adult should be between 40–45C,

ideally in a room that is 25C’


If you struggle to meditate in a normal

setting, then try a few minutes in the

bath. Your body is already physically

relaxed, which should make it easier

to empty your mind and zen out in

your hydrating haven. Simply close

your eyes and concentrate on long,

deep breaths. Keep your mind quiet,

and focus on the present moment.

The sound of the water. The smell of

essential oils. The complete relaxation.



Through difficult times, animals have the power to offer relief and companionship. Inspired

by her mum’s experience with dementia, Sarah McPherson is the woman behind Miniature

Donkeys for Wellbeing – aka Mini Donks – the social enterprise that takes their seven

adorable animal companions on wellbeing visits, and changes lives while they’re at it

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

To cut a long story

short... We lost a

dog, went looking for

puppies, and came back

with two miniature

donkeys instead.”

Sarah McPherson is casting her

mind back to 2017, and the series

of events that lead her to found

Mini Donks – the social enterprise

that takes miniature donkeys

into care homes, schools, and

hospitals, to support community

wellbeing across their home

county of Norfolk.

“Bo Peep and Saffy joined the

family when my mum was in the

early stages of dementia,” Sarah

says. “When they were still able

to, my folks used to come over

and stay with us, and my mum

always loved spending time with

the donkeys. Then, her dementia

got worse, and it became very

obvious that my dad was going

to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

and vascular dementia, too.”

Sarah took a three-month leave

of absence from her job to try to

set up care systems so her parents

could stay in their home. During

this incredibly difficult time, Sarah

found comfort in her two donkeys.

“I’d come home, go and sit in

the stable, and just spend time

with them. Saffron would come

and stand with me. I used to just

sit and look up at her, and she’d

rest her head on my shoulder and

give me a big sigh. That was very


As Sarah’s parents’ conditions

progressed, they moved to a

nearby nursing home. Knowing

how much they loved the donkeys,

Sarah started to bring the animals

on visits with her.

“One of the nursing staff said:

‘There’s a lady who would love to

see them, but she’s bedbound. Will

they come in?’ I said: ‘Well, we’ll

give it a go.’

“Shortly after, we took our two

little donkeys to see this lady. And

that was the beginning of it all.”

When Sarah’s mum passed

away in April 2017, the Monday

following her funeral, Sarah

handed in her notice at her job,

and officially founded Mini Donks.

Since then, the team has

grown to seven donkeys and 12

volunteers – and together, they

work hard to support and improve

the wellbeing of everyone they can

in their community.


The soothing effect that animals

have on our wellbeing is truly

incredible, but Sarah thinks there’s

something particularly special

about donkeys.

“Our girls, they’re inquisitive,

they’re bright, but they’re also

very gentle. My Pippin, she’s very

sensitive to what people need.

She’ll suck on my hand, like a child

sucking their thumb. It relaxes her

and puts her into what seems a

dream-like state.

“So if we have somebody who’s

end-of-life, or maybe someone

with Parkinson’s who’s very shaky,

I’ll just gently draw Pippin towards

them, while she’s sucking on my

hand, and then they can put their

hands on her.”

After the visits, Sarah has been

told by staff at the hospital that the

atmosphere is so much calmer,

and Sarah sees first-hand how

spending time with the donkeys

can soothe stress and anxiety.

Recently, Mini Donks began

visiting a secure psychiatric

hospital. What began as a one-off

visit became every six months,

before they were asked to come

monthly instead. >>>

74 • happiful.com • September 2019



Sponsor a mini donk for

£35 a year, and help them

continue to deliver

their life-changing

wellbeing visits. Find out

how at minidonks.org.uk/


Mini Donks has now grown to seven donkeys

and 12 wonderful volunteers

They’re huge


because they’re

just themselves,

and they’re very

gentle souls

“There’s an adult ward and a

children’s ward. The staff and

patients say that the best day of

the month is donkey day,” says

Sarah. “They get to come and

groom the donkeys, and we walk

around the grounds with them,

leading them.

“They’re building a relationship

with the donkeys, and one of

the young patients saw from

our website that it was Pixie’s

birthday, so he made a special

card for her.”


Sarah has countless stories of the

people who have been touched

by the work that they’re doing

with Mini Donks. But when she

reflects on her time working with

organisations in her community,

one story in particular stands out

in her memory.

“There’s a chap who we met at a

nursing home in North Norfolk,

which caters for people with

very severe dementia. He was

non-verbal, and he suffered from

a shuffling gait – so he shuffled

with his hands curled up in fists

against his chest.

“A careworker brought him in

to the pen with the donkeys, and

they very gently took his hand.

As his hand went down on to the

back of the donkey, he opened

up and started stroking. I put a

brush in his hand and he begin

to hum.

“He groomed that donkey like

a professional. He went from

behind the ears, down the neck,

along the back, down by the

sides, down all four legs, then

looked around, saw the other

donkey, shuffled over, groomed

the other donkey. Then he put

the brush back in our hands, and

off he went.”

A year on, Sarah and the donkeys

went back to visit the same

nursing home.

“He was still there, but much

worse. He was asleep in a chair,

and the care staff very gently woke

him up. He looked up, took the

donkey’s face in his hands and

kissed it.”

Sarah explains how the five or

so minutes that people spend

with the donkeys can make all the

difference to their wellbeing, and

creating these moments is at the

heart of what Mini Donks do.

“My dad has got severe dementia,

and he doesn’t always know who

I am,” says Sarah. “He doesn’t

care much for donkeys, but if

something reached him the way

that the donkeys reach these

people, I would be delighted.”


The work that Mini Donks does

is propelled forwards by 12

volunteers, who give up their time

to take care of the donkeys, and

come along on wellbeing visits.

But for Sarah, and the others who

support their mission, the work

they do also supports their own

mental health.

“It’s been a saviour for my mental

wellbeing,” Sarah explains. “And

a lot of our volunteers come to

us because they want something

for themselves, to help them with

their wellbeing.

“People have come to us lacking

in confidence, and with anxiety

issues. But being around the

donkeys, and them being a

facilitator to help the donkeys help

somebody else, is a really powerful


But despite being the driving force

behind the social enterprise, Sarah

is quick to step out of the spotlight.

76 • happiful.com • September 2019

“I know it was my idea, but

it’s so much more than me – it’s

this amazing team, and it’s the

power of positivity. If anybody is

feeling low, doing something to

help somebody else can be a lot

easier than doing something to

help yourself – but, in fact, you’re

doing both at the same time.”


From the people that they visit,

to the team behind the scenes

whose lives are brightened by the

work that they do, Mini Donks is

the social enterprise filling the

small moments in people’s lives

with joy and comfort. And for

Sarah, all the hard work is more

than worth it.

“I haven’t gone to bed for two

years without thinking about

donkeys,” says Sarah, as she

reflects on what drives her. “But

when I worked for an agency,

advising on how to create

It’s so much more than me – it’s this amazing

team, and it’s the power of positivity

successful start-up businesses,

the chief exec said we need to

ask clients: ‘What does your

perfect day look like, and how

is your business going to give

you more of your perfect day?’

My perfect day is messing

about with my donkeys, and

giving other people their

perfect days, so I’m the most

successful person you could

ever meet.”

Discover more about the work

that Mini Donks do by visiting

their website, minidonks.org.uk

September 2019 • happiful.com • 77

Happiful Hero

Photography | Svetlana Pochatun

Photography | Riki Ramdani

78 • happiful • December 2018

We think too much and

feel too little


End your day on a grateful note…

So often the negatives

can consume

our thoughts, but

dedicating a little time

to focus on the things

we’re thankful for can

do wonders for our


Studies have shown that

collecting your thoughts at the

end of the day, and focusing

on what you’re grateful for, can

improve your sleep quality,

optimism, and even lower blood

pressure. Why not give it a go



Struggling for what to write? Here

are 10 prompts to get you started:

• Who was the last person to make

you smile?

Journals we love


(The Happiness Planner, £22)


1 Pick a notebook or journal

(any pen and paper will do,

but having a special book

might make this time feel

like a real treat).

• What memory always makes you


• Describe your favourite smell

• Describe your favourite dish

Image | thehappinessplanner.co.uk




Try to get into a routine and

develop the habit by setting

a time for writing in your

journal every day.

Take as long as you like, but

try to note down at least one

positive thing you can take

from the day or week.

Revisit and read your

gratitude journal for a mood

boost, and a reminder of all

the wonderful things in your

life, no matter how small,

when you need it most.

• Describe the last time you

helped someone

• Note down a time you made a

mistake, but learnt something

from it

• What are you most proud of in

the past week?

• What are you most looking

forward to in the next week?

• What teacher, mentor, or

person, has had the biggest

impact on your life?

• List five ways you can share your

gratitude with the people you

love tomorrow

Gratitude Journal

(Selfish Darling, £24.99)


Q and A a Day: 5-Year Journal

(Potter Style, £14.99)



to grow

When we reach a big life milestone, it’s natural to

want to reflect on where we’re at in our lives. Here,

blogger Anna Newton pens a letter to her future

self as she approaches the big 3-0, drawing on

lessons she’s learnt so far, and those all important

intentions for her future

Writing | Anna Newton

Hello future Anna!

How are you doing? Has The

Office finally come to Netflix?

Are avocados still trendy, or are

they laughed at like the ‘devils on

horseback’ dish from the 80s? Can

you believe that we used to drive

cars with our hands and feet?!

Here’s the thing with writing

a letter to your future self – one

day you can actually look back at

it and read it. If only I had access

to the implanted microchips that

you now use for diary entries, I’d

schedule a reminder for 20 years

time to check this out. Instead of

looking back at what advice I’d give

to my younger self, it’s a chance to

review where I am now, how I got

here, and have a look into a crystal

ball to set intentions and hopes for

the years ahead.

This year, 2019, will see me

turn 30. An age by which, when

I was younger, I imagined I’d be

married (I have found myself a lovely

fella, so have checked that one off the

list), own a house with a garden

(haha!), and have started a family

(hahahahaha! x100).

But here’s the thing, life doesn’t

always turn out how you planned

– which I’m sure you’re even

more aware of now. In fact, life

has a funny old way of turning

things completely on their head,

providing challenges which hurt

like hell sometimes, but can often

give us a chance to grow, and teach

us a lesson worth learning.

So what have I learnt in the past

29 years? Well, sometimes what

you think you want, isn’t actually

what you want at all. I’ve learnt to

forge my own path, and not the one

drawn out for me by others. Hell,

I went completely off-piste and

became a self-employed blogger,

and I couldn’t be happier thanks to

my jump into the deep end, and off

the corporate ladder.

I’ve learnt that family and friends

are everything and, just like you

need to be there to buoy them up

sometimes, the ones that are worth

their salt will return the favour

when you need it most. I’ve learnt

the hard lesson that you can’t be

everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve learnt

to congratulate a friend on their

achievements, without comparing

their life timeline to mine. I’ve

learnt about teamwork, decisionmaking,

interest rates, and what

the hell to do when the pipes freeze

over, and the shower doesn’t work.

I’m learning to adult.

80 • happiful.com • September 2019

Life has a funny

old way of turning

things completely

on their head,

providing challenges

which hurt like hell

sometimes, but

can often give us a

chance to grow

Now the key emphasis is on

‘learning’ there, because I’m not

sure that we ever feel our age, nor

do we ever feel like we completely

have a 100% understanding on life.

That is the one thing that I know to

be true at the grand age of 29 – you

never stop learning. Whether it’s

facts and figures, problem-solving

techniques, or you finally work

out how to expertly apply eye-liner

(please feel free to share), there’s

always room for development.

Here are two things I’m still

working on – how have I done?

I’ve spent my life being such a

people-pleaser; always looking to

appease others, whether I agreed

with their actions and opinions,

or not. It’s a work in progress,

but going forward it’s something

that I really want to improve on.

Standing my ground, being more

assertive where necessary, and

learning to have a stronger stance.

I think this confidence in your

own beliefs is something that

comes with age, but being the

neutral-ground lover that I am, it’s

something that’s going to require

some effort, too.

The other thing that I’m learning

is how to step away from work.

Being a blogger, my home life,

work life, and social life, can

become a little tangled, and so I

really hope that I’ve managed to

find some balance between them

all. That I’ve learnt not to have my

phone in my hand five hours a day

(shudder), and not to feel guilty for

stepping away from work when it’s

time to play, because you’re never

going to regret finishing early

one evening to go out for dinner,

a film, a meal, a walk round the

park – those moments are the

cherry on the top and hey, I have

an extremely sweet tooth. >>>

September 2019 • happiful.com • 81

If you’re having a tough

time, there is only one

remedy. Laughter – and

lots of it

When you’re reading this,

future Anna, ultimately I hope

you are happy. I hope you’ve had

a rollicking good time so far. I

hope you finally have a garden!

A house! I hope you managed to

have a family of your own, and cry

through every single Nativity play

and carol concert like mum did at

ours. And if not, I’m sure you’re

a cracking auntie. I hope you’ve

continued to flex your creative

muscle in your job, and I hope

whatever you’re doing for your

career still makes you as happy as it

makes me now.

Life has probably thrown a couple

of curveballs at you over the years,

and I’m sure they’ve made you

stronger. Loss completely sucks,

and is inevitable as you get older,

but I have no doubt that you would

have developed a way to cope – and

that it’s made you more thankful

for the people in your life, and has

given you even more of a reason

to spend quality time with your

nearest and dearest.

If you’re having a tough time,

there is only one remedy. Laughter

– and lots of it. Remember when

you and Mark used to crank up the

Sonos (I’m guessing these are as

archaic as a cassette now), dance

around the kitchen, and give your

neighbours a show that Craig

Revel Horwood would have given

a two? Or that time when Sammy

jumped on top of the footstool and

sang Britney Spears like her life

depended on it? Call your friends

immediately and book in a karaoke

session. Is No Doubt’s ‘Don’t Speak’

still your karaoke song?

Essentially, future self, I hope

you’re happy, healthy, loving life,

and still learning – and that you

continue having a hella load of fun.

Anna is a content creator and author

of the life organisation manual ‘An

Edited Life’ (Quadrille, £16.99).

Follow Anna Newton on Instagram

@TheAnnaEdit for more.

82 • happiful.com • September 2019



Most of us, at some point in our lives, will have felt a little lost, or numb. Unsure of

who we are. But for those with BPD, this sense of instability persists throughout

their life – in their relationships, their behaviour, their thinking, and even their own

identity. Here we delve into the truth about BPD, and those experiencing it

Writing | Hattie Gladwell

We all know the

battle we’re fighting

against the stigma

around mental

illnesses. Gradually,

understanding is growing that they

are just that – illnesses. We don’t

control or choose to have them,

and while it’s scary to reach out

and accept help, it’s something that

can help us to manage them in the


But then we have personality

disorders. Illnesses, just like the

rest, and yet for those diagnosed,

the very nature of the name

means that misinterpretations are

easily made, and it can feel like a

person’s character is under attack.

The stigma for these is still all

too real, and one such condition

you may have heard of, but don’t

truly understand, is borderline

personality disorder (BPD).

Also known more recently as

emotionally unstable personality

disorder, BPD often emerges

during adolescence, and continues

into adulthood. This means it can

be incredibly difficult to recognise,

given it’s a typically emotionally

tricky time for teenagers anyway,

with lots of hormonal changes

affecting them.

Additionally, due to the

similarities between other

conditions – such as depression

and bipolar disorder – borderline

personality disorder can be difficult

to diagnose quickly, and just as

difficult to treat.

But the good news is borderline

personality disorder is treatable,

people can learn to live with it, and

have a good quality of life.


The main things to be aware of

with personality disorders are that

they tend to affect us through our

behaviour, and connections to

ourselves and others. You might

be diagnosed with a personality

disorder if you have difficulties

with how you think or feel about

yourself and other people, and are

having significant problems in your

life as a result.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint

a particular cause for triggering

BPD, it’s believed traumatic life

incidents could play a part, as with

many mental illnesses. But if you

think you may have it, the best

thing to do is speak to your GP

first, describing your symptoms

and how you feel, in order to

move forward with getting help

and clarity.

With so much stigma around the

condition, which might prevent

people from speaking out and

reaching help, it’s essential we

break down the misconceptions

and uncover the truth about BPD.

And so, here’s the truth behind six

common myths about borderline

personality disorder: >>>

September 2019 • happiful.com • 83

It’s essential we

break down the


and uncover the

truth about BPD



There is a lot of stigma around

BPD, despite it being 2019, folks.

If you find YouTube videos, or

articles involving a person with

the condition, you’ll often see a

lot of people calling them ‘toxic’,

or telling people to ‘stay away

from them’ in the comments.

But people with BPD are not

toxic; they are struggling. The

issue with BPD is that, unlike

other conditions, there is no

medication to treat it. And so,

it’s all about coping mechanisms,

meaning it may take a sufferer

a while to learn to manage it on

a daily basis. Going through a

bad patch with BPD means this

person is having a difficult time,

and they need love and support

to get through it – not fear,

confusion, and judgement.



Some people are under the

impression that all mental

conditions can be helped with

medication, but BPD is actually

not one of them. While some

people do take medication for it,

experts are divided over whether

this is actually helpful – and no

medication is currently licensed

to treat the condition. It’s not even

recommended by the National

Institute of Health and Care

Excellence. Certain symptoms

within the disorder may benefit

from medication to manage, but

not the disorder itself. Instead,

therapies are usually suggested.

So, the similarity to other mental

illnesses here is that what works for

one person won’t necessarily work

for someone else – after diagnosis,

it can be a period of time trialling

out various methods to manage it.

84 • happiful.com • September 2019



There is a lot of confusion

between BPD and bipolar

disorder – and often this is

because bipolar disorder is

abbreviated to BPD as well.

But, bipolar is a mood disorder

categorised by periods of mania

and depression that can last for

weeks at a time, while BPD is a

personality disorder.






People with BPD tend to have quite

intense friendships, due to one of

the symptoms of the condition:

having intense, but unstable,

relationships with others. Because

of this, a lot of people with BPD

find maintaining relationships

extremely difficult. Often they

can be affected by a strong fear of

abandonment, and having very

intense emotions. So, a person

with BPD may get upset and obsess

over things that a person without

the condition wouldn’t be as

bothered by. But this doesn’t make

them a bad friend or partner,

and it’s important that people

understand the condition in order

to better support and help their

friends through this element of

their condition.



BPD is categorised by four parts:

emotional instability; disturbed

patterns of thinking or perception;

impulsive behaviour; and, as

mentioned, intense but unstable

relationships. It’s more than

just having outbursts of intense

emotions – though that is a large

part. People with BPD often feel

worried about people abandoning

them – and would do anything to

stop that happening. They don’t

have a strong sense of who they

are, and their personalities can

change significantly depending

on who they’re with. People with

BPD feel lost and empty a lot of the

time, and act impulsively, doing

things that could harm them –

such as binge-eating, using drugs,

driving dangerously, or the overconsumption

of alcohol. They can

find it impossible to control their

anger, and may have episodes of

paranoia and dissociation.

People with BPD often

feel worried about

people abandoning

them – and would do

anything to stop

that happening




Though in all honesty, the

disorder does have the potential to

consume a person, it is possible to

learn to cope with it with the right

help, and to find ways to handle

situations – such as controlling

their anger and emotions before

they get too out of hand. But

remember that BPD is an illness,

and it needs treatment. So please

don’t give up on someone just

because they have the disorder.

Be understanding, offer support,

and don’t be too quick to misjudge

them when they’re struggling.

People with BPD can make the

most loyal friends.

For more from Hattie, follow her

on Twitter and Instagram


September 2019 • happiful.com • 85

Photography | Svetlana Pochatun

Photography | Tyler Nix

Creative thinking inspires

ideas. Ideas inspire change


I beat alcoholism and

made a new me

After years of misery and loneliness, Brian finally

acknowledged that drink was slowly killing him. Now –

after rehab, and with a renewed passion for friends, dance,

and art – life has never been better

Writing | Brian Parker

No one sets

out to be an

alcoholic. It

creeps up on

you until you reach the

point where you cross the

line, and you are hooked.

Then it destroys your

life – physically, mentally,

and spiritually. But you

can recover.

For me it was a very

slow process. I drank

every day for 25 years,

and was probably hooked

after about eight. But

it was only in the three

years before I stopped

that it started to take over

my life.

Alcoholism is a

progressive illness, and

as long as I continued

to drink my situation

only got worse. As it

progressed, it became

more and more of an

obsession. All I did was

go to work (to pay for the

booze), come home and

drink until I went to bed,

pass out, then get up and

do it all again.

It was slowly leeching

my life away. By the end,

I had no social life and

I stopped doing all the

things that make life

worthwhile, like dancing,

making art, and being

with people. It was a sad

and miserable existence.

Then one Friday I came

home from work, and had

a nervous breakdown.

This was partly because

of the drink, and partly

because I was overworked

at my job. I was

stressed and getting to my

wits end. But this turned

out to be my moment of

clarity, and it made me

seek professional help for

the first time in my life.

My doctor sent me to

rehab at the Priory. They

convinced me that I was

an alcoholic, and that the

solution was complete

abstinence. They also

explained that if I

wanted to stop drinking,

I couldn’t remain the

person I was; that person

drank. I had to change

into someone who didn’t

drink, and who was

happy about that.

For me it looked like a

way to get my life back. I

remember thinking: “If

I could only get back to

feeling like how I felt in

my 20s.”

All I did was go

to work (to pay

for the booze),

come home and

drink until I went

to bed, pass out,

then get up and

do it all again

Well, I can tell you, it’s

turned out much more

than that. In my 20s I

never realised my full

potential, or made proper

use of my talents.

For the first four years

of my life without drink,

I concentrated solely

on recovery and getting

better. At the start it felt

like I’d had the stuffing

kicked out of me. I had

almost no spirit left, and

I seemed to be living in a

befuddled fog.

So I set about changing,

although it wasn’t easy.

To get anywhere, I had to

make a continuous effort

every day. But slowly it

worked. My joie de vivre

began to return, and I

started to become the

person that perhaps I was

always meant to be.

After the first four years,

I started to look outward

and began engaging with

the rest of the world. I’d

always been a dancer –

not someone who just

gets up and dances now

and then, but someone

who is defined by the

word ‘dancer’.

So I started dancing

again, in performing

arts festivals and clubs.

I made friends. Through

them, I discovered >>>

5Rhythms, which uses

dance as a moving

form of meditation and

spiritual practice.

It took me out of myself

and helped me to grow,

to recover my spirit. I

kept changing, I kept

looking for more ways

to help me grow and

rebuild both my spirit

and me.

I became an

apprentice shaman for

a year, I became a reiki

practitioner, I started

drumming, dancing and

singing in public for the

first time at festivals, and

I kept meeting more and

more people, and making

more friends.

That was vital to my

rebirth, for although I

have been a loner all my

life, I am a person who

needs people, and that

connection with people

was a very important

part of the changes I

made to get well.

Most of my life I had

been held back from

exercising my creative

talents by crippling selfdoubt,

so tackling that

was the next step.

I’d sung all my life but

self-doubt and selfconsciousness

meant I

never let anyone hear

me. I was hanging out

with people who sang

and I wanted to join in

but couldn’t.

Gradually, I came to see

that facing these fears

was the next step in the

process of change. So

I spent a year learning

to play the guitar – and

rehearsing three songs

– and eventually made

my debut at an open mic

event in Southend. I was

shaking so much I could

hardly finger the chords

on my guitar, but I knew I

had to do it.

And I stuck with it, to

the point where I formed

a rock band called

WorkInProgress. I was

not only getting my life

back – I was creating a

new and better one.

Also around this time,

encouraged by some of

the new friends I’d made,

I decided to put into

action a dream I’d had

since school days and

return to university to do

a degree in Fine Art.

To do that I had to face

some more self-doubt

– although it was easier

this time – and do an

‘access to art and design’

course. It was during this

particular course that

the feedback I had from

both tutors and my fellow

students convinced me

Brian’s solo retrospective

show ‘The Journey So Far –

It’s All About Me’ is at the

Royal Opera Arcade Gallery,

London, from 7 to 12 October.

For more information, visit


that I had real talent as a


I completed the first

year of the Fine Art

degree, but dropped

out, as it wasn’t giving

me what I was looking

for. And by this time

I was already having

exhibitions and winning

prizes for my art.

88 • happiful.com • September 2019

Left: Brian exhibiting his work, Above: Brain’s original painting entitled, ‘Saturday Night

Sunday Morning 3.24am’

Over the next few years

I established myself

on the local art scene

and became quite well

known. Then, two years

ago, I thought it was

time I got involved in the

London art scene.

I gradually

tackled the

elements that

held me back

I have spent a lot of time

travelling up to London

to meet people and make

friends, and I’ve taken

part in around a dozen

exhibitions. All this will

culminate in my solo

exhibition at the Royal

Opera Arcade Gallery on

Pall Mall in October.

So my message is:

no matter how bad

things are, you are

able to change your

circumstances by

changing you. I was a

loner with few friends,

racked by self-doubt,

with a negative outlook

on life, and in the grip

of the crippling disease

of alcoholism. But I


I gradually tackled the

elements that held me

back from being fully

me. I had to, otherwise

the drink would have

killed me. It’s not easy,

and requires real effort. I

did it because I thought I

was going mad and then,

as realisation dawned, to

avoid death by alcohol and

to get a new and better life

back. You can do it, too.


Brian’s story will resonate

with anyone who has had to

face major life changes. They

can be frightening times and,

like with Brian, its easy for

people to feel lost and bereft.

What his story illustrates

perfectly, is those seminal

moments actually create us,

not destroy us.

It’s easy to be afraid of

change, however the really

hard bit is trying to keep

things the same when we

know they aren’t working.

Brian reached out to others,

and made a commitment to

himself. In doing so he set

himself free to

be the creative,

happy person

he is today!

Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr

Life coach

September 2019 • happiful.com • 89

Mental health


When endometriosis hit

comedian and writer Eleanor

Thom, she used her experience

to fuel her performances. Her

brutally honest and funny style

puts an often misunderstood

condition in the spotlight...

Mental health matters to me

because… I know now that my brain

and my body are entwined, and one

won’t work properly without the

other. I spent a long time resisting,

and trying to ignore the effect of

endometriosis on my mental health

– but it turns out you can’t separate

them, they’re talking to each other

behind your back.

When I need support I… call my

family and friends, even if we don’t

talk about whatever is happening,

sometimes I just need some

distraction from the pain.

Three things I would say to someone

experiencing mental ill-health are…

It will get brighter, hold tight – you

can do this. Ask for some help; it’s so

much harder to do it on your own.

Try to keep talking about it – if it’s

not possible with loved ones, ask for

some professional support – it really

helps to untangle it all. When it feels

overwhelming, try to remember

how well you’re coping, and think

of something kind you could do for

yourself in the interim – sometimes

it has to be the little things that keep

you going.

‘Private Parts’ by Eleanor Thom

is out now (Hodder, £18.99)

The moment I felt most proud of

myself is… on the way back from

the Edinburgh Festival in 2013 after

my solo show, exhausted and in a lot

of pain, but I had finished 34 shows

in 29 days, hadn’t had to cancel a

single one, and all without a single

painkiller. I never thought it would

be possible. The day the publisher

bought my book Private Parts was a

pretty good day too!

The main thing I want people to know

about endometriosis is... it affects 1

in 10 women – approximately 200

million women worldwide – so you

definitely know someone with it.

It’s not life threatening, but it can be

life-altering if women don’t get the

right support and treatment. Keep

going back until someone listens.

And to those who ask: yes, it is a

long-term thing, and no there isn’t a

magic cure I haven’t heard of.

One thing having endometriosis has

taught me about myself is... while

there are better and less persistent

ways to have learnt this, it has taught

me that I am strong, resilient and

resourceful. You can (and must)

have a full and wonderful life

alongside this.

When I’m lacking motivation I...

let it be, and do something less

exhausting – paint, knit, listen. I’ve

learnt to allow for the moments

of lethargy and being still. My dad

taught me that sometimes you’re

on the cusp of something creatively

great in these moments too, which

is reassuring. I try to think of it as

marinating time – motivation will

come back, it’s just hiding for a bit.

The best lesson I’ve learned in life is...

nothing stays the same good or bad,

and there’s always time for a laugh.

Photography | Emma Bullivant

Photography | Oliver Hihn

Dwell on the beauty of life.

Watch the stars, and see

yourself running with them


We’ve helped more than

1 Million

people connect with a therapist

using Counselling Directory

You are not alone


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